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Government pushing for “light touch” data protection law at EU debates

29 Jan 2013

The government is pushing for a "light touch" on any new European Data Protection Directive to ensure legislation does not stifle web innovation.

The minister of state for the Ministry of Justice, Lord McNally, said those leading the discussions for the UK at a European level have been instructed to pursue this line of argument to try and ensure any new law is agreeable to all concerned.

"The negotiators have been asked to follow a light touch and one that will get respect when it comes out," he said, speaking at an event hosted on Monday by law firm Hunton and Williams, attended by V3.

Lord McNally added that while he backed the European Commission's moves to create the new law, it would be hard to convince the industry of its importance if the ideas put forward were deemed burdensome. This is particularly important to ensure any changes to data protection laws do not stifle the innovation the internet offers.

"The internet has been one of most empowering gifts man has ever had. We have an amazing driver of the economy; we mustn't stifle it with over-regulation."

Also speaking at the event, information commissioner Christopher Graham said the privacy watchdog's main hope for the new legislation was that it focused on "outputs, rather than processes" and to create new laws that "give enforceable rights to citizens".

The new Data Protection Directive is likely to come into force around 2015 after it was unveiled just over a year ago and is now being debated at present by all member states.

Documents seen by V3 earlier this year showed that leading technology firms are concerned new laws may give the ICO too much power.

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Dan Worth

Dan Worth is the news editor for V3 having first joined the site as a reporter in November 2009. He specialises in a raft of areas including fixed and mobile telecoms, data protection, social media and government IT. Before joining V3 Dan covered communications technology, data handling and resilience in the emergency services sector on the BAPCO Journal

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