MEPs fume over UK data privacy disregard – POLITICO

LONDON — A key European Union lawmaker has described meetings with the UK government over the country’s data protection reform plans as “appalling”.

French MEP Gwendoline Delbos-Corfield said she felt “we were being taken for fools” after digital minister Julia Lopez walked out of the mid-term meeting, Britain’s Home Office ministers failed to meet with them and Britain’s data regulator, the Information Commissioner’s Office, sent acting chief executive Emily Keaney rather than chief John Edwards .

Delbos-Corfield said the ICO official “didn’t seem to know anything about data protection” and couldn’t elaborate beyond the one-sentence answers. She compared that with a recent visit to Ireland’s under-fire data commissioner Helen Dixon, who “was very prepared” with statistics at her fingertips.

The MEP, a Greens member of the European Parliament, was in London last week as part of a three-person delegation from Parliament’s influential Civil Liberties Committee to consider UK plans to reform its privacy rules Datas.

UK Digital Secretary Michelle Donelan has pledged to replace the “crazy” data regulation rule that Britain inherited from the EU, the General Data Protection Regulation. Even so, the UK must maintain privacy standards similar to those of the EU to maintain lucrative data flows with the 27-member bloc.

But Delbos-Corfield was far from impressed after the visit to London.

“It was appalling, it was all about growth and innovation and nothing about human rights,” the French MEP said of a meeting with UK government officials over reform plans.

“I have never heard them say that data protection is a fundamental right. Even in Hungary they say that,” she said.

Italian MEP Fulvio Martusciello of the centre-right European People’s Party said his impression from the visit was that Britain was “giving up on privacy in exchange for commercial gain”.

“In Europe, the protection of the individual prevails; in the UK, protecting the economy,” he said.

A UK government official present at the meeting dismissed MPs’ reports, saying the meeting had been positive. “We have made it clear that we have a strong commitment to high data protection standards,” the manager said.

Delbos-Corfield said “the most concerning thing about the visit was the weakness of the ICO.”

An ICO official speaking on condition of anonymity said John Edwards was unable to attend the meeting due to existing commitments on his agenda and that MPs mainly wanted to discuss data reforms, which are more a subject for the government.

“We were delighted to support LIBE’s visit last week, with our Deputy Commissioner and senior officials outlining our role in the adequacy agreements, as well as answering questions about the government’s data protection reform plans. government,” an ICO spokesperson said.


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