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Data protection vote opens the way to further improvements to the regulation

A vote on EU data protection rules this evening in the Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs committee of the European Parliament opens the way to further improvements in the draft law.

A vote on EU data protection rules this evening in the Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs committee of the European Parliament opens the way to further improvements in the draft law when MEPs begin negotiations with national governments, European Conservatives and Reformists Group shadow rapporteur Timothy Kirkhope, said today.

The parliamentary committee voted on a series of compromise amendments between the parliament’s political groups that were a significant improvement on the proposals put forward by the Green MEP leading the law through parliament.

ECR shadow Timothy Kirkhope is seeking for the regulation to create a set of broad principles rather than prescriptive legislation. There were heavily prescriptive elements in today’s compromise package that the ECR could not support, such as an arbitrary €100m maximum fine for breaches of data protection rules, which would be crippling for some smaller businesses but perhaps not commensurate with major breaches by multi-national corporations.

As well as the regulation, MEPs also voted on a separate directive on Data Protection for law enforcement purposes. Like much of the committee, Mr Kirkhope could not support this proposal as its overly prescriptive nature would prevent law enforcement officers from carrying out legitimate investigations.

Speaking after the vote, Mr Kirkhope said:

“We have sought to play a constructive role in the passage of the new Data Protection regulation. The last Data Protection rules were drafted before most people had access to the internet so they are sorely in need of an update.

“We want the new regulation to put in place a broad set of principles that will create a level playing field in the EU Single Market, and ensure greater clarity around the rights and responsibilities of people when it comes to their personal information.

“We need to get this regulation right. Whilst the text voted through this evening is still not perfect, it is a significant improvement on previous drafts so the ECR was willing to approve opening negotiations with national governments on that basis. We will seek to use those negotiations to create an even more workable law that enables businesses to innovate whilst giving people power over their data.

“Attached to this Regulation is a directive on Data Protection for law enforcement purposes. This directive should be about protecting the data of innocent people and ensuring they are treated fairly. As it stands, following today’s vote, the text is so prescriptive that it will seriously inhibit law enforcement officers from doing their jobs. We could not support this part of the package and we hope it will be stripped back to make it more workable.”

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