IT industry group slams burdens imposed by proposed EU privacy policy

A proposal by EU justice ministers to relax data protection rules for low-risk personal data doesn't go far enough, industry lobbyists say

Justice ministers' proposals to relax European Union data protection rules for low-risk personal data are a step in the right direction, according to a lobbying group backed by IBM, Microsoft and Oracle.

But they still impose unnecessary burdens on industry, the group said.

"The risk-based approach is a pragmatic way to protect sensitive data while at the same time preventing the unnecessary slowing down of data flows in cases where people's privacy isn't at risk," John Higgins, director general of DigitalEurope said in a statement.

Friday's meeting of the Council of the EU proposed less stringent rules for protecting personal data not considered "high risk," the latest step in the long process of reforming EU data protection law. The current Data Protection Directive dates back to 1995, and the reform is aimed at reinforcing consumer confidence in online services, updating the rules to take account of new technologies, and potentially saving businesses €2.3 billion (US$2.9 billion) a year through reduced administrative burdens.

The Council is composed of national ministers from each of the EU's 28 member states. Which ministers attend depends on the matters under discussion. On Friday it was the turn of justice ministers, who discussed an amendment to the draft data protection regulation proposed last week by the Italian government. Italy is the current holder of the six-month rotating presidency of the Council.

The EU's executive body, the European Commission, first proposed the new data protection regulation in January 2012. The European Parliament approved the draft regulation with minor modifications in March.

Under the proposal agreed by the justice ministers on Friday, there would be no requirement for companies with fewer than 250 employees to keep a register for regulators of the data they control or process, to whom it is sent and where, unless the data is considered "high risk". Larger companies such as Apple, CA Technologies, Hewlett-Packard, SAP and all the other DigitalEurope members would still be required to keep a record of all such data processing, which may explain the group's lukewarm support for the amended text.

"There remain a number of weaknesses in the text that will result in unnecessary burdens on data controllers and processors, without any improvement in privacy protection," the group said.

The amendment approved by the justice ministers also requires that businesses carry out an impact assessment of the risks associated with holding data, a process DigitalEurope criticized as complex.

DigitalEurope also said the rules on sub-contracting data processing work were overly restrictive. Rules for employing data protection officers who are responsible for ensuring compliance with the law are "unwieldy and inflexible," the group said.

The group also highlighted the problem of declaring too much data to be high risk: "There's no point calling it risk-based if in reality the law continues to lump everything in the high risk category," it said.

The draft regulation, in discussion for almost three years, is still some distance away from becoming law. Friday's meeting gave the Italian government no mandate to negotiate a compromise with the Parliament on the changes made, and it dealt with only one chapter of the draft regulation -- which ministers could still modify further.

Whatever they decide, there's no telling how their changes will be viewed by the other decision makers: A new Parliament has been elected since the discussions began, and a new Commission is about to be nominated.

Peter Sayer covers general technology breaking news for IDG News Service, with a special interest in open source software and related European intellectual property legislation. Send comments and news tips to Peter at

Join the CSO newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags CA TechnologiesIBMregulationlegislationEuropean ParliamentOracleprivacyHewlett-PackardAppleMicrosoftsecurityeuropean commissionSAPgovernmentdata protection

More about AppleCA TechnologiesEUEuropean CommissionEuropean ParliamentIDGMicrosoftNewsOracle

Show Comments

Featured Whitepapers

Editor's Recommendations

Solution Centres

Stories by Peter Sayer

Latest Videos

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: The Human Factor - Your people are your biggest security weakness

    ​Speakers: David Lacey, Researcher and former CISO Royal Mail David Turner - Global Risk Management Expert Mark Guntrip - Group Manager, Email Protection, Proofpoint

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Current ransomware defences are failing – but machine learning can drive a more proactive solution

    Speakers • Ty Miller, Director, Threat Intelligence • Mark Gregory, Leader, Network Engineering Research Group, RMIT • Jeff Lanza, Retired FBI Agent (USA) • Andy Solterbeck, VP Asia Pacific, Cylance • David Braue, CSO MC/Moderator What to expect: ​Hear from industry experts on the local and global ransomware threat landscape. Explore a new approach to dealing with ransomware using machine-learning techniques and by thinking about the problem in a fundamentally different way. Apply techniques for gathering insight into ransomware behaviour and find out what elements must go into a truly effective ransomware defence. Get a first-hand look at how ransomware actually works in practice, and how machine-learning techniques can pick up on its activities long before your employees do.

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Get real about metadata to avoid a false sense of security

    Speakers: • Anthony Caruana – CSO MC and moderator • Ian Farquhar, Worldwide Virtual Security Team Lead, Gigamon • John Lindsay, Former CTO, iiNet • Skeeve Stevens, Futurist, Future Sumo • David Vaile - Vice chair of APF, Co-Convenor of the Cyberspace Law And Policy Community, UNSW Law Faculty This webinar covers: - A 101 on metadata - what it is and how to use it - Insight into a typical attack, what happens and what we would find when looking into the metadata - How to collect metadata, use this to detect attacks and get greater insight into how you can use this to protect your organisation - Learn how much raw data and metadata to retain and how long for - Get a reality check on how you're using your metadata and if this is enough to secure your organisation

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them Featuring: • John Baird, Director of Global Technology Production, Deutsche Bank • Samantha Macleod, GM Cyber Security, ME Bank • Sherrod DeGrippo, Director of Emerging Threats, Proofpoint (USA)

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    IDG Live Webinar:The right collaboration strategy will help your business take flight

    Speakers - Mike Harris, Engineering Services Manager, Jetstar - Christopher Johnson, IT Director APAC, 20th Century Fox - Brent Maxwell, Director of Information Systems, THE ICONIC - IDG MC/Moderator Anthony Caruana

    Play Video

More videos

Blog Posts