European Parliament overwhelmingly approves substantial privacy reform


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Earlier this month MEPs, meeting in a Plenary Session in Strasbourg, overwhelmingly adopted the European Parliament's Response to the European Commission's proposal for a Regulation on data protection (Proposal for a Data Protection Regulation, published in January 2012). The amendments adopted in a number of key areas represent a heavier burden on business than the Commission original position. These include the extension of the definition of personal data, broader requirements for the obtaining parental consent for the processing of a child's data and hefty fines in case of a breach (up to 5% of a company's global annual turnover).

The decision cements the European Parliaments position ahead of the upcoming European Elections in May. Following the vote, Justice Commissioner Reding called the European Parliament's message “unequivocal”. She commented on twitter that “The EU Data Protection Reform is a necessity and now it is irreversible.” . Mr Albrecht, the lead rapporteur from the European Parliament, warned the Council that “any postponement would be irresponsible.”

However, Council members remain divided across a number of critical areas and are, as such, unlikely to be in a position to enter into negotiations with the Parliament and Commission until the end of this year, at the earliest. In a press statement published after the vote, WFA and the industry partners, that make up the Industry Coalition for Data Protection (ICDP), called for “for important improvements” to be brought to the Regulation in order for it to achieve its underlying purpose to protect online users whilst allowing for the digital economy to thrive and flourish.

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