The issue of freedom of the press and freedom of expression was thought to be less of a sore spot than other more complex negotiations on the draft data protection regulation, which Facebook, Google and Amazon are rising up against. However, during a vote in the European Parliament's Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) in October 2013, German Green MEP and rapporteur Jan Philipp Albrecht decided that the right to privacy "is not absolute" and opposable to these two other fundamental freedoms.
With the plenary session vote on 10-14 March in Strasbourg just weeks away, Angela Mills Wade, executive director of the European Publishers Council (EPC), which brings media owners together, is certainly not on the same page.
"The whole debate on the collection and use of data for commercial, marketing or advertising purposes [...] concerns large companies with similar interests. What really worries us is that the European Commission's initial proposal, which exempted journalists, is in danger of being rendered meaningless by the European Parliament and Council," she told. "Journalists can't ask citizens for permission every time they name someone, investigate or store away their archives," she added in reference to the "explicit consent" that Europeans must, without exception, grant in the future before their personal details are used.
The media world therefore deemed the Commission's initial January 2012 proposal to be a lot more explicit. And with good reason: the text incorporated the essential provisions from the 1995 directive on data protection, which could only apply "for journalism or the purposes of literary or artistic expression" to justify any "exemptions and derogations" in future EU rules, and "reconcile" data protection and freedom of expression.
NO REFERENCE TO JOURNALISTS
Two years on, and this journalistic reference has disappeared from Albrecht's report, which will be submitted for vote on 11 or 12 March in Strasbourg. The text now says that the member states should be able to decide on derogations and exemptions whenever necessary.
This more ambiguous wording was, for the...