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ECR

Data Protection must not stifle growth or add costs for consumers

10 January 2013

Data Protection must not stifle growth or add costs for consumers

An ECR MEP today welcomed a review of European data-protection legislation, but warned against introducing a right to “be forgotten” and against heavy-handed fines for businesses.

An ECR MEP today welcomed a review of European data-protection legislation, but warned against introducing a right to “be forgotten” and against heavy-handed fines for businesses.

Timothy Kirkhope, spokesman on justice and home affairs in the European Parliament, was speaking as MEPs discussed their response to proposals from the European Commission for updatinglegislation which is now 15 years old.

A proposed response was presented to the parliament’s Justice and Home Affairs Committee, drafted by German Green MEP Jan Albrecht with input from Mr Kirkhope as shadow rapporteur for the European Conservatives and Reformists Group.

The MEP for Yorkshire, a former Home Office Minister in the UK, pointed out that the internet had seen massive leaps in technology and scope, including the creation of social networking and a host of other online services, since the European Union last changed its regulations on data protection.

He sees the revamp as a key opportunity to help complete the digital single market and enhance international trade. It should also provide much-needed legal clarity for businesses across 27 member states and disparate legal systems.

The proposed regulation sets out to help protect consumers and internet users and is estimated to save the European economy€2.3 billion a year.

Mr Kirkhope said: “There is much in this draft report which we can support, particularly calls to reduce over-prescriptive administrative burdens on reporting for businesses and moves to remove powers from the European Commission in some areas.

“However, calls for strengthened explicit consent for internet use and the right to erasure, the so-called right to be forgotten,are potentially impractical and over-protective. Proposals for set fines for breeches, reaching perhaps two per cent of annual turnover for businesses, might appear to protect the consumer but in practice will do little to increase customer awareness or safety.

“Instead it would create a more-expensive and complicated internet, and more-costly online services for consumers.

“Protecting consumers and businesses do not need to run counter to one another. Legislation can protect people without stifling innovation and growth.

“We should be creating solid data-protection principles which will last another 15 years, and which will help create a widespread culture of responsibility and awareness by businesses and individuals. This will make Europe a more-attractive place to do business will attract growth, not drive enterprise away with costs and complexity.

“Done right, data protection laws can be good for business. This is what I will be working hardest to ensure in the next few months.”

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