MEPs yesterday voted overwhelmingly in favour of the Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee (LIBE) draft of the new EU data protection regulation, which is a radical and comprehensive overhaul of the dated EU data protection framework. We summarised the main points in a previous post.
The reform now has the strong support of both the EU Parliament and the EU Commission which comprise two thirds of the EU legislature. However, the regulation’s real test is in the EU Council of Ministers, where differing national interests are represented, some of which are not so enthusiastic about the regulation. The UK, for its part, has strongly criticised the rules on international transfers of data as being inflexible. Other voices of concern have been raised over the practicalities of the ‘one stop shop’ regulatory regime. Whether and when this regulation becomes law remains to be seen, as the members of the Council must first agree their position amongst themselves, and then begin negotiations with the Parliament.
It has been a red letter day for data protection in the EU Parliament. In addition to the regulation, the Parliament also voted in favour of a data protection directive which would set separate rules around the processing of personal data by law enforcement bodies and endorsed a report by the LIBE committee calling for a suspension of the US-EU Safe Harbor and Terrorist Finance Tracking Programs until it can ensure that the US is holding up its side of the agreements. Worryingly, they also indicated that unless mass surveillance by the NSA ceases, they will withhold their consent to the proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership between the US and EU, which would be the largest trade deal in history.