US technology companies who have being lobbying hard against Viviane Reding's proposed reform of the European Union's data protection law were criticised today by the Brussels' justice commissioner for deploying "scaremongering" tactics.
Her bill, meanwhile, has been savaged by at least nine member states - according to the Financial Times - after countries including Britain successfully argued that the proposed directive was too rigid and cumbersome for businesses operating within the 27 members' state bloc.
A memo drafted by the Irish presidency of the EU and seen by the pink'un appeared to show a deep level of opposition from a number of countries. It said:
Several member states have voiced their disagreement with the level of prescriptiveness of a number of the proposed obligations in the draft regulation.
The newspaper also cited an unnamed EU diplomat who claimed that there was a consensus among many of the nations that the rewrite of Europe's DP law needed to cut down the "burdens" contained within the regulation.
Reding has been pushing for a single law with which every member state will need to comply even though the national governments currently have a patchwork quilt approach to current EU data protection legislation.
The commissioner, in a clear attack on critics of her bill, said today that the discussions about consent were "overblown". She snarled:
The current directive states since 1995 that consent has to be "unambiguous". The commission thinks it should be "explicit". 27 national Data Protection Authorities agree.
What will this mean in practice? That explicit consent will be needed in all circumstances? Hundreds of pop-ups on your screens? Smartphones thrown on the floor in frustration?
No. It means none of these things. This is only the scaremongering of certain lobbyists.
Reding added that the fundamentals of the Data Protection law would not be ripped apart and said that it was simply the case that the current legislation needed to be refreshed.
She warned: "If your business model is in line with the current rules, you have nothing to fear. Things are fine if you comply."
However, the bill in its current form looks set to be trampled on. Here in Britain, the government has long complained that Reding's proposals were unworkable.
In November last year, the House of Commons Justice Select Committee blasted the directive. It said that while data protection law in the EU needed a shakeup some of the plans "do not allow for flexibility or discretion for businesses or other organisations which hold personal data, or for data protection authorities".
The draft bill is currently being scrutinised by the European Parliament. Privacy groups recently raised concerns about how the proposed law was being picked apart and amended by some MEPs. They also warned that lobbyists from big tech outfits had too much power in Brussels. ®