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EU Data Protection Proposals Undermine European Privacy - Rights Groups

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European countries, pushed by Germany, are systematically working to destroy the fabric of European privacy legislation, rights groups say.

MOSCOW (Sputnik) — European countries, pushed by Germany, are systematically working to destroy the fabric of European privacy legislation, as the proposed changes to data protection are diluting rights to privacy, documents leaked to European Digital Rights, Access, the Panoptykon Foundation and Privacy International revealed Tuesday.

The European Commission and the European Parliament have since 2012 worked to unify the European Union's data protection legislation under a single law, which privacy campaigners say is being diluted.

"The European Union is based on treaties, which include the European Convention on Human Rights, which entails the fundamental right of privacy. The European Commission sought to modernize that framework in 2012, but now the texts being agreed are undermining that legal framework," Executive Director of European Digital Rights Joe McNamee told Sputnik.

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McNamee said the language being used in the proposed new data protection framework is too loose and will not give sufficient control over data to individual users.

"You can't have a data protection framework which doesn't define data or personal data, and which doesn't give control of data to the individual and which doesn't set a limit over how much data can be stored or that doesn't provide a degree of predictability and control to the individual,” McNamee said.

McNamee blamed the loose phrasing and the attack on privacy on businesses lobbying to avoid excessive red tape. He said that lawmakers used to be strong enough to understand and deal with “short-termism” in business lobbying but have recently failed to succeed in this.

"In recent years, they haven't been as good in dealing with this and have tended to fall for it, basically. And that's bad for the individual citizen, bad for business and bad for the fundamental rights of citizens," McNamee said.

With enough data, a tracking company or government can know more about people's own preferences, motivations, health, relationships and politics than even their closest friends or family, according to McNamee.

The question of data protection has come to a head over the past two years, after former US National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden revealed the mass surveillance of personal data — including internet browsing, emails and social media accounts — by the NSA and Britain's Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) agencies.

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