Safeguarding personal data while boosting competition for business
The "right to be forgotten", explicit consent before a person's data is collected and a ban on profiling on the basis of ethnic, religious or sexual orientation criteria are among the main demands for data protection reform made by the legal affairs committee in a non-binding opinion adopted on Tuesday.
Legal affairs specialists in Parliament support the "right to be forgotten" as proposed by the Commission in its draft data protection regulation. This would oblige companies, such as social networks or online shops, to delete personal data on request. However, the committee says in its non-binding opinion that this right should not apply to data processed for healthcare purposes. They believe that is important to retain complete health records in order to ensure the best care and treatment.
The data protection regulation will replace the current directive dating from 1995 and will apply a single set of rules to all data collected on a systematic basis, from search engines and social networks to health and education data. The proposed rules seek to give citizens more control over their own data, especially on the Internet, while ensuring clearer rules for businesses.
Profiling and explicit consent
The legal affairs committee says that "profiling" (a practice that allows personal data online to be monitored and matched in order to analyse or predict a person's behaviour) should not be based on ethnic, religious or sexual orientation criteria.
MEPs also support the Commission proposal to require a person's explicit consent to the use of their data. This permission could be sought electronically, says the committee in its opinion.
The legal affairs committee adopted its opinion on the data protection regulation by 14 votes to 6, with 4 abstentions. It also adopted an opinion, by 14 votes to 9, endorsing the directive on the processing data for criminal matters. It was the fourth and last committee to adopt non-binding opinions before the civil liberties committee votes on its report as the lead committee. The other three committees to adopt opinions were the internal market committee, which voted on 23 January, the industry committee, which voted on 20 February and the employment committee, which voted on 21 February.
Civil Liberties Committee discussion
The civil liberties committee debated on Wednesday the amendments tabled to the Commission proposal. A total of 3,133 amendments were tabled to the regulation and 673 to the directive. "I am optimistic that we will succeed in a common EP position covering almost all fields," said Jan Albrecht (Greens/EFA, DE), the MEP responsible for the regulation. Dimitrios Droutsas (S&D, EL), rapporteur for the directive, criticized the "short-sighted governments that oppose higher levels of data protection".
The civil liberties committee will vote on both the regulation and the directive at its meeting of 29-30 May.
In the chair: Klaus-Heiner Lehne (EPP, DE)
Rapporteurs for the legal affairs opinion: Marielle Gallo (EPP, FR) (general data protection regulation) and Axel Voss (EPP, DE) (data protection directive)
Rapporteurs for the civil liberties committee: Jan Albrecht (Greens/EFA, DE) (regulation) and Dimitrios Droutsas (S&D, EL) (directive)