Thursday 1 November 2012

Rumours of a new timetable for “that” Regulation

First the good news: the House of Commons Justice Committee has just published its opinion on the European Union Data Protection framework proposals.

And what does it say?

“As currently drafted, the Regulation does give data subjects essential rights that must not be compromised during negotiations, and it has the potential to make data protection compliance easier for businesses, especially small businesses, which trade across the European Union. However, we do not believe that in its present form it will produce a proportionate, practicable, affordable or effective system of data protection in the EU.”

Also: "We regard as authoritative the UK Information Commissioner's assertion that the system set out in this draft Regulation "cannot work" and is "a regime which no-one will pay for", and we believe that the Commission needs to go back to the drawing board and devise a regime which is much less prescriptive, particularly in the processes and procedures it specifies." (paragraph 43)

No surprises there. When you take a closer look at the opinion (which many of us will), there are a few comments that are going to be challenging to data controllers, if they are to be implemented in their current form. Like the proposal to abolish the £10 Subject Access Fee (paragraph 77). I’ll leave it to you to find some of the others.

Now, the not so good news, depending on where you stand on the matter. It was not mentioned in the Committee's opinion, but it concerns the timing of the new initiative.

Yes, we all know how determined everyone is to move mountains to ensure that something is implemented in 2014. Of course this is what Commission officials are saying, and of course this is what Irish officials are saying, and it is the Irish that will be in the negotiation driving seat during the first half of 2013.

Well, I’m closing my book on taking bets that this initiative will be implemented in 2014. I just can’t take anyone else’s money and look them directly in the eye. I just think that too many heads need to be banged together in too short a time frame for 2014 to remain a realistic target.

The most perceptive players appear engaged in a different game. And when you assess their intentions, it’s likely that 2016 is a more realistic target than 2014.

I expect there to be howls of anguish that anyone would be so bold (or stupid) as to predict that the new initiative won’t see the light of day until 2016, as this really isn’t what anyone is supposed to be saying right now. But, let’s see if I am wrong – and how wrong I am.