Diluting protections - EU privacy proposals

VERY few ideas have been as outflanked by technology as the idea of personal privacy.

Anyone who has been paying attention realises that the principle, treasured even a decade ago, has become as outmoded as whalebone corset stays.

Yesterday’s report from the www.lobbyplag.eu collective will do little to comfort those who imagine it is still possible to live in privacy or at least live fully in the modern world and in privacy. The group’s report suggested that Ireland was one of the top three most active European nations when it came to undermining the EU’s new data protection regulations. The group said just one of Ireland’s 34 tabled changes to EU data regulation improved privacy. Only Germany, the most intrusive with 62 amendments to weaken privacy provision and Britain, made greater efforts to dilute the proposals.

This country has long been afflicted by a culture of secrecy and this report suggests that little has changed and the old principle — “if you must say something, say nothing” — resonates as loudly as ever in official Ireland. This aversion to openness seems at least questionable in a country with so many eggs in the information technology basket — Google, Apple, Microsoft, and myriad others operate here and bring very welcome jobs. They may or may not have been involved in these interventions but as we have seen with the pharmaceutical multinationals those who provide jobs are not slow to exercise their influence even inappropriately.

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