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Europe defends data protection law

Mark Ballard

European officials yesterday tooka stand against international pressure to compromise their data protection principles for the sake of global business and government.

A report by the UK's Information Commissioner recommended last week that Europe's data protection law be "recast" in a weaker mould.

Alex Turk, president of Europe's council of data protection authorities, the Article 29 Working Party, told a data protection conference in Brussels yesterday that weaker standards would not bring any sort of compromise Europe could accept.

"When we look at international standards we need to be realistic," he said. "I don't think an entire wave of new principles is going to give us some kind of epiphany."

"We can probably learn from exchanges with partners across the globe," said Turk. "But I think we should stress that we are trying to add to what we have already, rather than change radically what is in place."

The UK ICO's report, written by US military advisers the RAND Corporation, repeated the complaints of US multinationals such as Google, which wantto transport personal data about the globewith fewer regulatory fetters.

Jonathan Faull, director-general of the European Commission's directorate of Justice, Freedom and Security, joined in the defence of the European laws that have seen Google's business practices repeatedly challenged by European regulators.

"Our ambition in Europe is quite simple," said Faull. "We want the best system of data protection in the world for ourselves, and to shine out from Europe to the rest of the world as a model."


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