European Parliament votes to permit pseudonymous data profiling

But digital rights groups warn that the proposal lacks sufficient safeguards for citizens' data

The European Parliament's civil liberties committee voted Monday night to allow profiling of "pseudonymous" data, but digital rights groups say that safeguards to protect data are not sufficient.

The committee vote was on the latest amendments to the proposed E.U. Data Protection Regulation, which was put forward by Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding in 2012 and has provoked some of the heaviest lobbying seen in Brussels in years. The text voted on Monday had been through almost 4,000 amendments.

"The combination of Articles 6 and 20 amounts to a badly drafted license to profile without consent," warned EDRi director Joe McNamee.

Article 20 of the draft law states: "Profiling based solely on the processing of pseudonymous data should be presumed not to significantly affect the interests, rights or freedoms of the data subject." Pseudonymous data is defined in the text as "personal data that cannot be attributed to a specific data subject without the use of additional information."

This means that "profiling, using nonidentified but identifiable data is permissible without the consent of the individual, using the 'legitimate interest' exception," McNamee said.

This "legitimate interest" exception appears in Article 6, which reads: "Processing of personal data shall be lawful if processing is necessary for the purposes of the legitimate interests pursued by the controller, and which meet the reasonable expectations of the data subject based on his or her relationship with the controller.""This could turn 'legitimate interest' into the main legal basis for processing," said Jeremie Zimmermann of La Quadrature du Net in a statement.

"A lot of other compromise amendments reached by members of the different political groups are actually good. For instance, those providing that consent must be explicit, that data must be fairly processed or that citizens must keep them under their control; but these good compromise amendments could be almost useless if the compromise amendments made on Article 6 and 20 are adopted," Zimmermann added.

German member of Parliament Jan Phillipp Albrecht accepted that he couldn't keep everyone happy. "When you compromise you can't expect to get 100 percent of what you want," he said. "But I think this text is strengthening citizens' rights compared to what we have today."

The draft law does indeed include some precautions against worst-case scenarios. For instance, additional information that could be used to identify individuals in pseudonymous data must be kept separately from such pseudonymous data. Profiling that has the effect of discriminating against individuals on the basis of race or ethnic origin, political opinions, religion or beliefs, trade union membership, sexual orientation or gender identity is also explicitly banned.

The text of the law will now be negotiated with member states in the European Council after members of the committee gave Albrecht, the politician charged with steering the legislation through, a mandate to continue final negotiations. Once an agreement has been reached between all parties, the text will go before the European Parliament as a whole no later than next April.

John Higgins, director general of DigitalEurope, urged member states not to hurry final negotiations. "There is a real risk that the drafting process will be rushed and important details will not get addressed properly. Rushing through a half-baked law risks throwing away a vital and much-needed opportunity to stimulate economic growth. Put simply, take your time. Get it right."

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Blog Posts

Why are we dubious about deep learning?

The prospect of deep learning gives those of us in the industry something to get really excited about, and something to be nervous about, at the same time.

Katja Forbes

Founder and chief, sfyte

Why you can’t afford to fail at CX in 2019

In 1976 Apple launched. The business would go on to change the game, setting the bar for customer experience (CX). Seamless customer experience and intuitive designs gave customers exactly what they wanted, making other service experiences pale in comparison.

Damian Kernahan

Founder and CEO, Proto Partners

Natural born leaders

Many business and marketing managers progressing to leadership positions face evolving their focus from operational matters to strategic decision making and planning.

Jean-Luc Ambrosi

Author, marketer

Do you need a loan to pay off your credit or debit? Do you need financial help to set up your own business? Do you need a loan to carry o...

NORA

Facebook: Friction is costing Australian businesses $29 billion a year

Read more

Thanks for writing about chatbots. Definitely bots have the exciting future when it comes to customer engagement, transactional and conve...

Sanket Nair

7 businesses successfully implementing chatbots

Read more

Interesting article but what about the employees? There needs to be access to quick cash for everyone involved lest we have yet another '...

Joel Pencer

Suncorp outlines customer investments, digitisation as key to business improvement

Read more

Just printed out this Brad Howarth screed to read tomorrow. I need a good laugh once in a while. Or maybe shed some manly-man tears at th...

Larry A Singleton

What a diversity agenda has done for Kellogg's staff and innovation engagement

Read more

Morons. PC Nazis infiltrating and subverting every level in our lives.These scum have destroyed our education system.Read FrontPage Magaz...

Larry A Singleton

What a diversity agenda has done for Kellogg's staff and innovation engagement

Read more

Latest Podcast

More podcasts

Sign in