Friday 11 January 2013

Confucius and the LIBE report on data protection

A few of the finest minds in data protection have, by now, read at least half of the recently published LIBE report, which proposes a huge range of changes to the current proposal to amend the current Data Protection Directive. 

Evidently, some of them can’t quite believe, or understand, what it is that they are reading. 

Who can blame them – the text is complicated and, given the speed with which many of the amendments were proposed, contain drafting errors that don’t quite deliver what the authors probably intended.

 It is a pity that the European Commission can’t first issue a document which sets out, in very detailed policy terms, precisely what it is that the text should say – so that, when the policy objectives do get to be agreed, a group of juro-linquists could (and only) then develop a set of legal provisions that precisely delivered those objectives. 

As it is, we are all left to read this complicated stuff and then comment on what we think it means, rather than perhaps what it was actually intended to mean. 

Let’s not get too stressed though. There is no need to take these proposals personally. If many thousands more trained and experienced Data Protection Officers are required, then I’m sure that, eventually, they will emerge. There are plenty of bright Europeans who are currently unemployed, after all. 

But we are not the first generation to fret about proposals that don’t seem to make much sense.

As a good chum pointed out to me today, Confucius something to say about this, too:

“If language is not correct, then what is said is not what is meant. If what is said is not what is meant, then what ought to be done remains undone.”

Image credit: