back to article EU legal eagle Legal: Data protection reforms 'very bad outcome' for citizens

Attempts by Brussels' Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding to rewrite Europe's 18-year-old data protection law ahead of 2014's EU elections took a significant knock on Friday, after a key tenet of the proposed rules faced surprise objections on human rights grounds. The European Commission's vice president, who first tabled the …


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  1. Dazed and Confused

    Oh look

    The human rights act makes righting other laws more difficult.

    No one has ever noticed that before have they.

    Still I'm sure the "legals" will make money which ever way things pan out.

    1. Sir Sham Cad

      Re: The human rights act

      It also makes implementing shit laws more difficult so have some swings to go with those roundabouts.

  2. alain williams Silver badge

    A one-stop-shop will be a bad thing ...

    for lawyers, there will be less demand for their over-priced and under-delivered services if people can do it themselves.

    1. NumptyScrub

      Re: A one-stop-shop will be a bad thing ...

      A one-stop-shop can also be a bad thing for consumers, if it is based upon the position of e.g. the least protective member state, rather than the most protective. I would rather gain rights under this legislation than actually lose them, and it's currently unclear which path the proposed legislation takes.

      I'd rather have the protections of Germany's privacy laws than those of Greece, for instance...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: A one-stop-shop will be a bad thing ...

        > A one-stop-shop can also be a bad thing for consumers, if it is based upon the position of e.g. the least protective member state

        Exactly. I am not familiar with the proposals at hand, so I cannot comment directly, but e.g., my country of residence has possibly the strictest personal data laws in Europe. I would not want my data to be gratuitously losing all that protection and go under, e.g., the toothless gums of the Data Protection Act 1998 because it's "more convenient" for some company. What about *my* convenience as a citizen?

        Conversely, one of my businesses which handles customers personal data is a legal entity in country A, with the data stored and processed in country B, and the whole thing managed from country C (all EU). I'm in compliance with all three countries' data protection laws and frankly, it's no sweat at all--unless you're actively trying to shaft your customers, I suppose then it might change. :-/

  3. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

    The problem with legal opinions

    The problem is that you can usually get a lawyer to dig up some justification for whatever position you wish to take. So you pay the right lawyer, and you get the legal opinion you want. Of course that doesn't cover you for going to court, so you're best to pay for a good leval opinion, or it could cost you...

    But before legislation is passed there's no court to take anything to. So you can get legals to opine as much as you want.

    This fun and games is added to by the various competing structures that make up the EU. Which often have different aims, and therefore incentive to come up with different legal opinions. I don't think there's any central mechanism to come up with one decisive one that can apply to everyone. At least before legislation is passsed, and therefore before it hits the European Court of Justice.

    Hence we have the odd situation at the moment, where the European Commission says that the proposed Financial Transactions Tax (Tobin Tax) is legal, but the Council of Ministers' legal opinion currently is that it breaches the treaties on enhanced cooperation by affecting countries that didn't sign up. They also quote the norms of international tax law, which is even more fun as there's no court to sit in judgement on that, so I guess you can stick to whatever legal opinion you like - and it can never lose.

    I don't care how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, but I'd love to get a grant to study how many lawyers can be impaled dance on the end of a red hot, razor-sharp spike.

  4. bigtimehustler

    I dont agree with the human rights laws being used in this way, human rights were designed to provide a set of rights to allow you due process and the right to live freely, they have gone way to far over the years. It is not a human right to have your data issues dealt with in any particular way, human rights should be about the right to life and freedom and due process and that's all.

    However, I also do not agree with the absurd statement by this politician, "discussion should be at a political level, not legal right now", what exactly is the point in debating stuff which can not be implemented anyway because its illegal? She really has got too used to having pointless debates in her life it seems. Knowing whether what is being proposed could ever be implemented is surely important information in the debate they are having! She truly is a numpty!

    1. Desk Jockey


      Your point above is very incoherent. First you say human rights should not be used this way and then you say it should be there to protect freedom and ensure due process. Right to property (intellectual and physical) and not having it arbitrarily taken away from you is a fundamental human right. Without it, you might struggle to make a living and feed yourself and thus your right to life can be infringed. This is not abusing the human rights laws because it is a well known and much used tactic for the political types to take away the money and propoerty belonging to the opposition so that they are trapped/imprisoned by poverty and thus unable to cause political disruption.

      The legal points raised by Monsieur Legal, if true, are bloody important points. You can't deprive someone of their livelihood by doing a piss poor implementation of what could be a valuable service. Thousands of disabled people are wrongly denied benefits because the UK Government gave a piss poor contract to ATOS and told it to do a crap job. Imagine this being done on a European level, it would be awful. Having said that I get her pionts about going over old ground over and over again. European negotiations are like that, you just have to suck it up and prove to the legal types that you have addressed that issue in section X of the bloody document and if not, what wording do they suggest please. A common complaint I can relate to is that legal types too often tell you what you can't do and not enough time being helpful by suggesting a good way forward.

      On a wider point, the European Convention on Human Rights was written by a British judge because the judges from the other European countries at the time didn't really have a clue. (this topic is basic history for all law undergraduates) Therefore the Brit position that it is not suitable for Britain is very hypocritical because it was the Brits who wrote it! There is nothing wrong with the principles outlined in the ECHR. But there are a lot of lawyers making a lot of money abusing those principles and driving through bad national laws or policies as a consequence. Remember that when you next read a Daily Fail article on this or hear yet another politician/pundit spout off complete rubbish about human rights. It is British law that is the problem, after all the Scandinavians, Germans etc don't have big problems with it.

      Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer or human rights advocate.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: @bigtimehustler

        Don't see why this should be a problem for data-protection laws when it works so well for other consumer protection.

        There is no 'race to the bottom' across the eu to offer the lowest standard for drug or aviation safety - so I can get my new treatment approved in stereotypical corrupt eu country and then customers in the UK are unable to complain.

      2. Peter2 Silver badge

        Re: @bigtimehustler

        If you know that the European Convention on Human Rights was written by a British judge, then I take it that you know that it was written to provide Europeans with rights that had already existed in the UK since time immemorial.

        The problem is a fundamental one. Our laws are derived from the basic assumption that you are free to do anything that you want to do, and that the law makes restrictions on those freedoms.

        The Code Civil left behind by an emperor who successfully conquered virtually all of Europe perhaps unsurprisingly, starts from the basis that you have no rights at all, apart from what his law generously grants you.

        This is why the Human Rights Act and many similar bits of legislation are such a bloody mess. They are utterly and fundamentally incompatible with our systems of law from the core basic philosophical points even if they were written by the British to grant British freedoms to people in the EU. A child should be able to grasp the consequences of mixing laws written from the second example above with the first. Yet that is what is being done. And politicians wonder that it's unpopular!

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: @bigtimehustler

          "starts from the basis that you have no rights at all, apart from what his law generously grants you."

          "And politicians wonder that it's unpopular!"

          And so it should be; anyone who thinks that's an appropriate legal system on which to even begin a discussion on human rights deserves to be locked up ;-)

    2. nuked

      Is privacy from your state not a fairly obvious right in a democracy, and therefore an issue quite comfortably in scope of 'Europe'.

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