EU data reforms set to fail

A planned overhaul of European Commission laws on personal data protection could be doomed to fail, an Ovum analyst warns.
Luca Schiavoni, telecom regulations analyst at the research firm, believes vagueness in the definition of European Parliament proposals has the potential to create loopholes that means the new laws will not protect consumers.
A vote by civil liberties MEPs on Monday brings the planned overhaul a step closer, however Schiavoni says the proposals fail to clarify key points including what constitutes personal data, and consumer consent on the processing of their personal data.
“[T]his is very likely to turn into an extenuating box-ticking exercise for end users of online services and apps, and is likely to be burdensome for internet companies to implement,” Schiavoni notes.
Proposals to tighten up rules covering the transfer of European citizen’s personal data to countries outside the Union are also problematic. “This seems to be a reaction to recent headline-making stories such as the PRISM scandal, and, if passed in this form, may strongly limit US companies’ ability to transfer European users’ data to the US,” Schiavoni argues.
The EC is seeking to overhaul personal data laws to make them fit for the digital age, noting that current legislation was drawn up in the mid-1990s when Web usage was far lower than today.