What is the European Data Protection Regulation?

What is the European Data Protection Regulation?

When personal data is moved between different countries it makes it hard for citizens to have the right to protect and have some control over their personal information. The different registers, differing between countries, make it very hard for citizens, as well as companies trying to act in several countries, to keep track and control their information. Currently the European Parliament are discussing an attempt to harmonize data protection across the European Union.

With personal data being the oil of the new Internet there are big corporate interests in keeping the data protection laws weak. Having the funds and interests to weaken an attempt of a new law around data protection in Europe several lobbyists are set to work trying to make the new law more of a swiss cheese than a bank vault of privacy.

Privacy Campaign makes a good  job with their description:

Personal data is any information relating to you, whether it relates to your private, professional, or public life. It can be anything from your name, a photo, an email address, bank details, your posts on social networking websites, your medical information, your religious beliefs, or in many cases, your IP address.

In the online environment, where vast amounts of personal data are transferred and exchanged around the globe instantaneously, it is increasingly difficult for people to maintain control of their personal information. Almost everything you do online, from the websites you visit, to the links you click on, to the searches you make and the services and platforms you interact with, allow for the collection of data.

The “right to be forgotten” is important in order to maintain privacy. Some people try claiming that “if you have nothing to hide then you have nothing to fear” but a right to privacy is more than this. Always being watched means people don’t want to risk being perceived as “stupid or ridiculous” causing creativity and personal development to be severely limited. Privacy is the right to “think aloud ideas not yet fully formed”. Even if you believe there is nothing to hide people always have their limits on how open they want to be with e.g. medical / financial history or giving out their phone or e-mail to random persons they don’t know.

This topic is not only interesting to the lobbying of big companies living on personal information. Several people and organizations are informing about the situation but they could always need some more help. The two Pirate MEP’s, Amelia Andersdotter and Christian Engström, are obviously working hard on the proposed European Data Protection. The Swedish Pirate Party has also started a campaign site on the matter. The Greens / EFA are running their own campaign site and  EDRi gives you everything you need to know about the data protection regulation. Together with a few other digital rights groups they are also trying to get people to write their MEPs on another site. Several national campaigns for Data Protection are active and they could always need a helping hand, or if your country isn’t listed maybe start your own campaign?

Featured pic: From the campaign site https://www.nakedcitizens.eu/ encouraging you to send this (or similar postcard) to your MEP.
Original picture in public domain.