'Privacy need not be compromised': letter in Financial Times


March 10, 2013 10:07 pm

Privacy need not be compromised

From Baroness Sarah Ludford MEP.


Sir, Your report on the progress of new EU data privacy legislation posits a battle in which the Goliath of US technology giants has vanquished the David of European pro-citizen enlightenment (“Brussels’ climbdown over data protection”, March 7)


This stereotyped portrayal is both inaccurate and unhelpful. There is much in the European Commission’s proposed regulation to like. But concerns have been put to me about aspects that are inflexible, bureaucratic or not user-friendly by European academic and medical researchers, business-to-business marketing companies, telecoms suppliers, insurance groups and banks, the CBI and Federation of Small Businesses well as – yes – American IT companies.


As a Liberal, I believe it is possible to have a synthesis of high data protection standards and job-creating business and research in safe crunching of data. There are certainly companies, often dominant ones, that arrogantly defy laws and codes, and for them tough sanctions must be available. But there are encouraging indications on both sides of the Atlantic that companies that are trusted for their respect for privacy and dealing fairly with customers’ data will get a competitive edge in the marketplace.


As part of the construction of a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership I hope we can create a common space in which privacy, business, research and freedom of inquiry are all winners.


Sarah Ludford, Liberal Democrat European Spokesman for Justice and Human Rights




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