Datonomy readers who wish to influence the detail of the EU’s reform proposals via the UK Government have until 6 March to do so. The Ministry of Justice has this week issued a Call For Evidence to help inform its negotiating stance on the proposed Regulation. The link to the document and to an online questionnaire is here.
Datonomy readers could be forgiven for having a sense of deja vu – the MoJ conducted a similar exercise in 2010 as part of the lengthy consultation process which preceded the Commission’s formulation of the current proposal. Of course, a new consultation exercise is necessary now that the “phoney war” is over and we are dealing with actual draft legislation rather than a series of policy objectives and statements.
What line is the UK Government likely to take? The Secretary of State For Justice, Ken Clarke expressed a conservative (in both senses of the word) approach in this May 2011 speech . He suggested that the reform of the EU data protection regime called for “a good service or test on a well loved old car, rather than writing off the vehicle altogether and trying to buy a flashy but impractical new one“. The need for pragmatism is also repeated in the introduction to the new Call for Evidence.
Well, there are plenty of well loved – or at least familiar – principles in the new draft, many of these amplifying existing requirements and advancing soft law and best practice approaches into black letter law. One suspects however that the Secretary (and others) might view many aspects of the draft Regulation as “flashy” and/or impractical.
One of Datonomy’s more data-sceptic colleagues (I won’t name names) has promised to eat his (or her) hat if a a fine of 0.5% of global turnover is ever imposed on a data controller for responding late to a data subject access request – as is theoretically possible, if the Regulation were to be adopted in its current form.
Could Olswang’s offices be witness to hat-eating in, say, four or five years’ time? For all kinds of reasons, Datonomy hopes not. The black letter law detail of the Regulation has many hurdles to cross first, and then there will be the small matter of regulatory enforcement policy. The immediate milestone on the horizon, for data sceptics and for data enthusiasts alike, is to make your views and concerns known to the UK Government by 6 March.