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Privacy and Surveillance

The protection of personal data and privacy is an area where the European Union is a global leader. In 2022, the US is looking at how to implement privacy legislation for online platforms, and the EU's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is what they look to.

I wrote about the legislative journey of the GDPR in my book The Closing of the Net. The rapporteur was German Green lawyer, MEP Jan Albrecht. He had a tough time and ultimately produced a compromise that was not entirely satisfactory for either industry of citizen advocates.

But the undercurrent to privacy policy is all about surveillance, and nowhere more so, sadly, than in the UK. In 2022, the UK wants to force private platform providers to break encryption on communications between users. The policy battles around privacy did not stop with GDPR. They will continue for many years to come.

If you are interested in data protection policy and the genesis of the GDPR, you may like my book The Closing of the Net which discusses how the policy was influenced by State and non-State actors.

It's looking less and less likely that the new EU data privacy rules will be adopted before the 2014 Euro-elections, as the Council of Ministers has effectively blocked the process. Trilogues - tripartite talks between the three major EU institutions - had been proposed to start in January, with the aim of getting an agreement in place by March. But now Iptegrity has obtained confirmation that those plans have been stalled and it is unclear if and when they will be re-started.

Read more: Data privacy trilogues stalled by filibustering EU Council

In Germany, public anger over the interception of Chancellor Merkel's mobile phone by NSA intelligence services - known as Handygate - is indicative of the high level of feeling against the United States on the issue of data privacy. And now it has emerged that German MEPs are hatching a retaliatory plan that would impose a legal barrier to US firms who want to export European citizens' data to the US for processing.

Read more: EU privacy rules - terminate 'safe harbor' says German MEP

European Parliament data proection rapporteur Jan Albrecht was photographed last week in a drinking duet with Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding. Can he make it a trio with the Council? That is the key question for today's vote in the Civil Liberties Committee.

***Update: 19.11 21 October - the Libe committee have just approved the Albrecht report with all compromises, and the Council (trilogue) mandate - 51+ 1- The Droutsas report on data protection and law enforcement was also adopted with a smallermajority 29+ 20-****

Jan Albrecht is clearly under pressure, as evidenced by a statement he has placed on a Green Party website regarding the possibility of trilogues, which he is recommending to his committee. It's also

Read more: EU privacy under pressure: how positive are the compromises?


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About Iptegrity

Iptegrity.com is the website of Dr Monica Horten. I am an  independent policy advisor, with expertise in online safety, technology and human rights. I am a published author, and post-doctoral scholar. I hold a PhD from the University of Westminster, and a DipM from the Chartered Institute of Marketing. I cover the UK and EU. I'm a former tech journalist, and an experienced panelist and Chair. My media credits include the BBC, iNews, Times, Guardian and Politico.

Iptegrity.com is made available free of charge for non-commercial use. Please link back and attribute Dr Monica Horten.  Contact me to use any of my content for commercial purposes.