EU Elections 2019: Data protection a priority for next parliament, forecast shows

Facebook Demonstration in front of the European Commission in Brussels. [EPA-EFE/STEPHANIE LECOCQ]

The next European Parliament is likely to offer citizens better protection of their data, according to a study conducted by a leading European think tank. At the same time, concerns are growing about the adequacy of an EU-US deal on exchanging personal data across the Atlantic.

Research carried out by VoteWatch.EU shows that currently, around 54% of MEPs support stricter data protection rules, with MEPs in such a category forecast to increase by a further 3% after the European elections take place in May 2019.

The fact that no there will be no British MEPs sitting in the European Parliament, along with predictions that show a loss of seats for the EPP group, a party known for its softer stance on data protection rules, are some of the factors that may contribute to a parliament more favorable to a tougher stance on data protection.

Commission to crack down on data misuse ahead of European Elections

The European Commission is set to announce plans to clamp down on the misuse of personal data retrieved from social networks in the run-up to the 2019 European Elections, the Financial Times reported on Sunday (26 August).

The results come after the EU stepped up its campaign to better protect citizens’ data with the adoption of its General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in May, offering Europeans more control over how their data is collected and stored.

Currently, businesses that do not comply with data protection regulations could face a fine of 4% of global revenues, a substantial enough feature to encourage broad compliance.

GDPR comes in addition to reforms currently being thrashed out to the ePrivacy regulation, including a guarantee on privacy for storing users’ metadata, provisions for users to better control data tracking through cookies and a ban on unsolicited electronic communication.

 

Civil Liberties MEPs want EU-US Privacy Shield suspended by September

MEPs in the European Parliament’s powerful Civil Liberties Committee (LIBE) want the European Commission to suspend its Privacy Shield agreement with the United States unless the Trump administration introduces data protection safeguards by 1 September, in a move that comes amid mounting transatlantic political tensions.

The European Parliament has not shied away from tough regulation on data protection compliance concerns, and is likely to pursue certain pending issues into the new term.

The EU-US Privacy shield, the approved instrument by which data is transferred across the Atlantic, was passed in 2016 and permits the transmission of personal data between the EU and the US, conditional on the compliance by American companies to European data protection standards.

In July, MEPs called on the commission to suspend the EU-US Privacy shield, criticising the mechanism for failing to adequately protect European citizens without the adherence to the rules by American counterparts. The suspension, MEPs said, should be carried out if the US failed to follow  European data protection rules.

Speaking at the adoption of Parliament’s position in July, rapporteur Claude Moraes said: “In the wake of data breaches like the Facebook and Cambridge Analytica scandal, it is more important than ever to protect our fundamental right to data protection and to ensure consumer trust.

“The law is clear and, as set out in the GDPR, if the agreement is not adequate, and if the US authorities fail to comply with its terms, then it must be suspended until they do.”

Parliament stated that a suspension should be on the cards if the US did not comply with data standards by 1 September 2018.

As yet, no stoppage of the agreement has been announced. But Moraes has called for more progress and the EU-US privacy shield could well enough be one of the issues carried into the next parliamentary term.

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