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Amazon and eBay lobbyists found to be writing EU data protection law in copy-paste legislation scandal

A European privacy group claimed today that dozens of amendments to the new Data Protection Regulation being proposed by Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) are being copied word-for-word from corporate lobby papers, with MEPs frequently failing to even remember their own amendments. Max Schrems, of the website and campaign Europe v Facebook, noticed striking similarities between proposed amendments and lobby papers written by representatives of Amazon, eBay, the American Chamber of Commerce and the European Banking Federation.

In subsequent conversations with EU Parliamentarians, it became obvious to Schrems that several MEPs had copied entire paragraphs from lobby papers into their own suggestions. British MEPs seemed particularly keen to plagiarise lobbyists' suggestions. Malcolm Harbour, Conservative MEP for the West Midlands, proposed amendments with over 25% of content copied directly from lobby papers. Sajjad Karim, Conservative MEP for the North West of England, proposed amendments with over 23% copy-pasted content, and Giles Chichester, Conservative MEP for South West England and Gibraltar, followed closely behind with over 22% copy-pasted content.

Since the new Regulation was proposed last year, Brussels has seen unprecedented lobbying efforts by industry and government, particularly from the United States. Several Parliamentarians have spoken publicly about the recent surge in lobbying on data protection legislation; Eva Lichtenberger of the Austrian Green Party has called it “one of the biggest lobby wars of all times”, while the German MEP Jan Philipp Albrecht stated in an interview published today: "we are facing one of the broadest lobbying campaigns in the European Parliament”.

Max Schrems, founder of Europe v Facebook, said:

The IT industry is about to kill our fundamental right to data protection and privacy and some Parliamentarians apparently do not even notice when assisting them."

Anna Fielder, Trustee of Privacy International, said:

"Revelations like these add fuel to the fire of existing concerns about the democratic deficit in the European Union. Certain companies will always be willing and able to throw millions of dollars behind lobbying efforts to ensure that new legislation doesn't interfere with their business models - particularly if those models are dependent on invading people's rights to privacy and data protection. We would hope that MEPs are taking all sides of the argument into account when making law, not just the richest and most powerful corporate interests."
 

For more information, please visit www.LobbyPlag.eu, contact Emma Draper at Privacy International's press office on +44 (0) 7910 837008 / emma@privacy.org or see this blog from the European Digital Rights (EDRi) coalition.