US Corporations Win Against Privacy in EU Parliament Consumer Committee

*** UPDATE [04/02]: see the opinion of the IMCO committee on the proposal for a regulation on the protection of personal data ***

*** UPDATE [30/01]: see the amendments adopted by the IMCO committee ***

Paris, 23 January 2013 — The “consumer” (IMCO) committee of the European Parliament just voted to soften protection of EU citizens' privacy, caving in to the lobbying of giant US companies1. This is the first of many upcoming votes and tells us a lot about the balance of powers in the Parliament. It should act as a wake up call for citizens to defend their right to privacy against the illegitimate collection, process and trade of their personal data.

The consumer (IMCO) committee of the European Parliament cast this morning its opinion vote on “data protection regulation” regarding our privacy.

In close votes, Members of the IMCO committee chose to water down the protection of citizens' privacy, by, among others, allowing easier profiling of users by companies2, or softening obligations of notification of personal data breaches3. Most attempts to impose safeguards against the processing, storing and selling of our personal data, were rejected.

This vote is the first of the five opinion votes in parliamentary committees and a vote in the main committee (Civil Liberties committee, LIBE), before the vote in Plenary4. It is therefore of great help to evaluate the balance of powers in the Parliament:

  • Some votes were surprisingly close, meaning that nothing is lost yet, if citizens mobilize for counter-lobbying.
  • “Different coalitions for different votes”, from the words of the committee chair, M. Harbour, means that no clear and homogeneous position is set in the various political groups yet.
  • Key votes in favour of big industrial actors were won by the ALDE group siding with the conservatives instead of defending the general interest and fundamental freedoms.

“This vote shows how much the European Parliament can be influenced by the massive lobbying driven mostly by giant US corporations (banks, insurance and Internet services) going against the interest of EU citizens. It should act as a wake-up call for all EU citizens aware that privacy is essential for free societies. It is time to act by urging our elected representatives to protect our rights and freedom in the next committee votes, by adopting strong safeguards for our privacy.” concluded Jérémie Zimmermann, spokesperson for citizen advocacy group La Quadrature du Net.

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  • 1. See our wiki:
  • 2. compromise amendment 9 by EPP, ECR, EFD and ALDE
  • 3. compromise amendment 10 by EPP, ECR, EFD and ALDE
  • 4. An indicative timetable; JURI (Legal Affairs): 20-21 February / EMPL (Employment): 21 February / ITRE (Industry): 21 February / LIBE (Civil Liberties): 24-25 April