This ought to be a big year for Data Protection and Privacy – new regulations are supposed to be emerging from Europe, but the consultation is the most heavily lobbied process the EU has ever had. The alluringly titled Article 29 Working Party has been deluged with views.
There are a range of philosophical issues – whether we need to get over privacy, because the legislation can never keep up with technology; whether government should give up on protection; or whether government is the worst culprit in invading privacy. In the UK the change in government can be seen as taking the liberal brakes of the conservative law enforcement agenda, epitomised by its intended legislation being dubbed the “snooper’s charter”.
The current legislation dated back to 1998, and was based on 1996 EU legislation. That wasn’t a pre-internet age, but nonetheless the power to aggregate, collect and analyse data is vastly different to now. In our view government is not free to abrogate responsibility to protect citizens from the abuse of this enormous power.