The data privacy lobby battle: what's at stake and what can be done?

Publication date: 
Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Background information about the data privacy fight

Executive summary / policy recommendations: 

What's at stake?

"All of the safeguards that were planned by the Commission are about to be completely destroyed and emptied of their substance by the European Parliament. That is, unless citizens react, organise themselves, get in contact with their representatives and tell them 'look, this is our lives online, this is about everything we are, this is about everything we do, and we elect you to protect us'." 

Jérémie Zimmermann (La Quadrature du Net)

What's in their lobbying arsenal?

  • traditional lobbying including numerous visits with MEPs, information campaignes, threats, etc.

  • astroturfing organisations - front groups that have been set up by industry and pretend to be independent NGOs - who send out misleading messages

  • the editing of amendments, which some MEPs in relevant committees copy and paste directly (see

The video and the ongoing lobby battle highlight the importance of ALTER-EUs fight for more lobby transparency and stronger ethics regulation in the EU. This includes a mandatory lobby registerbalanced expert groups, a block of the revolving door and code of conducts for the Commission the Parliament and for Lobbyists.

What can be done?

Fortunatley a broad range of digital rights activists and organizations, such as EDRi, Open Rights Group, La Quadrature du Net, Privacy International, Bits of Freedom and many more are putting pressure on MEPs to defend the public interest.

To be successfull, the support of European citizens is essential. An important moment is the upcoming vote in the LIBE committee (the committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs), which will decide on which weakening amendments are incorporated into the final draft, which will then be voted on by the whole European parliament.

Take action and call your MEP!

Call your MEPs free of charge and tell them not to weaken our fundamental freedom to privacy and data protection in the vote on the 19th June, via pi-phone (created by Quadrature du Net).


Why a new regulation?

On 25 January 2012 the European Commission put forward a proposal for a General Data Protection Regulation. The proposal was made to reform the existing Data Protection Directive, which is operative since 1995. The current directive is out of date, as technological progress and globalisation have changed the way personal data is collected, accessed and used. Additionally the EU member states have implemented the 1995 rules differently, creating legal uncertainty for transnational data protection.

What would be the advantages?

Apart from unifying data protection law in all EU Member States the proposal constitutes an important step forward to adequately protect EU citizens right to privacy. The proposal is based on the standards established in the directive of 1995 and enforces or ads regulations where necessary. Important examples are:

  • the need for explicitly given consent for data processing, rather than assumed consent as it is often the case now

  • a 'right to be forgotten', which will enable people to delete their personal online data

  • the possibility to transfer personal data to another service; global protection of EU citizens personal data, even if data is processed abroad

  • strong sanctions in case of violation of these rules (up to €1 million or up to 2% of the global annual turnover of a company).

Further reading:

- Introductions to the topic from open rights groupbits of freedom and privacy campaign.

- On the lobbying of big business: naked citizens reportprotect my data from EDRi and, a great page on the amendments made by big business and copy&pasted by MEPs

Different language versions

Our video is available with subtitles in French, Spanish, Italian, German and Dutch:


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