Lobbyists' demands were 'copied into law by MEPs'

 

Sensitive personal information risks being left vulnerable to hoarding and misuse by banks, retailers and insurance companies due to three British MEPs accused of directly inserting major firms’ suggestions into EU laws, according to privacy campaigners warning of the most intense lobbying effort ever seen in the European Parliament.

Malcolm Harbour, Giles Chichester and Sajjad Karim are among several Brussels politicians criticised for “copying and pasting” proposals by Amazon, eBay and credit companies in between 22 and 25 per cent of their amendments to a data privacy law described as the most important for decades to come.

Concerns that firms are able to collect vast quantities of sensitive information on what websites people visit and what terms they search for online – potentially affecting job applications, health and credit records, and discriminatory pricing – are driving EU efforts to pass the continent-wide Data Protection Regulation.

This law could see companies fined up to 2 per cent of their global turnover if they misuse personal information, as well as force them to reveal what data they hold on individuals, restrict the way they share it and compel them to get explicit permission first.

But some MEPs became so concerned at attempts by corporations to water down the draft legislation that they leaked examples of lobbying demands they had been sent, exposing how the three Conservative MEPs and their counterparts had inserted passages word-for-word from documents sent to them by major companies.

Anna Fielder, a trustee of campaign group Privacy International, said that lobbying is legitimate but the amendments were”diluting existing rights, making it worse than what we have now”.

Jim Killock, executive director of the Open Rights Group, said: “The scale of what they’ve taken from lobby groups – trying to dilute fining rights or dilute rights to get your data back – tells you a lot. These are squarely going to benefit large companies and won’t benefit consumers. Companies know more and more about us, and have more and more power over our daily lives. They can predict our health before we know about it. This is about giving control of our data back.”

Eva Lichtenberger, a German MEP who criticised the corporate influence over the amendments, said she had experienced “aggressive behaviour” from some lobbyists, sending her direct “instructions how to vote” on amending it. “It is an extremely intense lobbying campaign, it must be the most intense,” she said.

Rivals have countered that MEPs leading the privacy campaign have themselves copied suggestions suiting their own agendas. But Ms Lichtenberger said: “It is not balanced. We have hundreds and hundreds of submissions from the industry, but much less from NGOs. You have lots of companies who send us proposals of over a hundred pages because they hate our data protection ideas.”

Marco Maas, who set up the LobbyPlag website comparing legal amendments to corporate suggestions, said some of the lobbyists were playing on MEPs’ heavy workload. “We asked one German MEP who changed a law from good to bad where the wording had come from, and he said he had no idea. They have so many papers to read that they don’t remember.”

Responding to the claims against himself and his colleagues, Mr Harbour, who represents the West Midlands, said: “I consulted extensively… and examined a large number of written submissions. We held many meetings with varying interest groups, including consumer and government representatives and representatives of small and large businesses. All of these meetings will be registered voluntarily. The amendments I tabled were ones that I considered were best able to improve the draft Regulation, especially in terms of data protection, control, and transparency for data subjects.

News
The cartoon produced by Bruce MacKinnon for the Halifax Chronicle-Herald on Thursday, showing the bronze soldiers of the war memorial in Ottawa welcoming Corporal Cirillo into their midst
news
Voices
Funds raised from the sale of poppies help the members of the armed forces with financial difficulties
voicesLindsey German: The best way of protecting soldiers is to stop sending them into disastrous conflicts
Voices
Nigel Farage has backed DJ Mike Read's new Ukip song
voicesNigel Farage: Where is the Left’s outrage over the sexual abuse of girls in the North of England?
Property
One bedroom terraced house for sale, Richmond Avenue, Islington, London N1. On with Winkworths for £275,000.
property
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
Text messaging changes as a relationship evolves
life
News
The comedian, 42, made the controversial comment following the athlete’s sentencing to five years for the culpable homicide of Reeva Steenkamp on Tuesday
peopleComedian's quip about Reeva Steenkamp was less than well received at music magazine awards
Sport
Cristiano Ronaldo in action for Real Madrid
football
News
peoplePerformer had recently been diagnosed with prostate cancer
Life and Style
food + drink
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SSRS Report Developer - Urgent Contract - London - £300pd

£300 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: SSRS Report Developer – 3 Mon...

KS1 Teacher

£95 - £150 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Key Stage 1 teacher require...

HR Business Partner - Essex - £39,000 plus benefits

£32000 - £39000 per annum + benefits + bonus: Ashdown Group: Generalist HR Man...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £30000 per annum + uncapped: SThree: Do you feel like your sales role...

Day In a Page

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
The 10 best smartphone accessories

Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

Liverpool v Real Madrid

Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?