Anna is Trustee and Board Chair, and has been a consumer policy advocate and expert for many years (though she did also spend a stint as a travel writer and editor). She currently works as public affairs advisor and researcher for national and international organisations. In this capacity she has worked with the UK National Consumer Council (now Consumer Focus) for the last six years, and has authored studies for other national and international organisations, on subjects ranging from alternative dispute resolution to cloud computing. She is co-ordinator of the sustainability standards area for the British Standards Institute Consumer and Public Interest Unit, and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (FRSA). She was previously the regional Director for developed and transition economies at Consumers International, where she put issues related to online rights and data protection on the consumer movement’s priorities agenda and set up the Transatlantic Consumer Dialogue.
We, and other privacy advocates, have criticised the poor provisions of the so-called Safe Harbour agreement, which allows free transfers of personal information from European countries to companies in the United States that have signed up and promise to abide by its Principles.
The European Parliament Committee that deals with civil liberties and justice issues will have a first vote this week on the revised European data protection framework after months and months of deliberations and negotiations over more than 4,000 amendments. The vote is the first on the framework, which will decide the future of privacy and data protection in Europe. The recent revelations surrounding government surveillance involving some of the Internet's biggest companies have highlighted the urgency of an update of Europe's privacy rules.
Trade has often been a positive driver in encouraging countries to adopt data protection laws, to ensure compliance and ability to conduct business with the European Union and other privacy-respecting partners. However, when free trade agreements are negotiated in secret and influenced by powerful business interests, the result is a severe watering down of existing privacy protections.
Today, a coalition of civil rights groups, including Privacy International, launched a report and campaign website, http://nakedcitizens.eu, which calls on EU Members of Parliament (MEPs) to protect fundamental rights to privacy in a crucial vote next month. Concerned citizens and consumers are able to contact their MEPs directly via the website.
Just over a year ago, vitally important reforms to European privacy and data protection laws were proposed. Now these reforms, which will affect the rights of half a billion Europeans, are being watered down in their passage through various European parliamentary committees as MEPs succumb to an unprecedented industry lobbying onslaught.
Today is Data Privacy Day, which commemorates the 1981 signing of the Coucil of Europe's Convention 108, the first legally binding international treaty dealing with privacy and data protection. It is celebrated all over Europe, as well as in Canada and the United States since 2008.
Tuesday’s letter to Google CEO Larry Page, personally signed by 29 European data protection authorities, ordered the corporation (inter alia) to give users greater control over their personal information. The notions of trust and control are emphasised throughout the letter, and Google is urged to "…develop new tools to give users more control over their personal data" and "collect explicit consent for the combination of data for certain purposes".
On 25th January 2012, the European Commission published a proposal that would comprehensively reform the European data protection legal regime. One aspect of its proposal, a new Regulation (the “Proposed Regulation”),1 would modernise and further harmonise the data protection regime created by the Data Protection Directive (95/46/EC).
On 25th January 2012, the European Commission published a proposal that would comprehensively reform the European data protection legal regime. One aspect of the proposal, a new Regulation (the “Proposed Regulation”),1 would modernise and further harmonise the data protection regime created by the Data Protection Directive (95/46/EC).