WFA News

Data Protection

EU Consultative Committee Publishes Opinion on the Commission’s Proposal

In an official opinion published on 31 July, the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) said that search engines, as well as social networks, “should come expressis verbis within the scope of the regulation”, since “the majority” of their revenue comes from targeted advertising. The EESC is a consultative assembly representing economic and social interest groups across the EU and is required to publish opinions on certain proposals from the European Commission.

The opinion wishes to extend expressly the application of the future data protection regulation to all forms of data collection for commercial ends. Individual’s Internet Protocol addresses should also be mentioned explicitly in the regulation among personal data to be protected. IP addresses are currently only mentioned in a recital of the Commission’s proposal.

The EESC identifies a series of improvements to the Commission’s proposal, including on the definition of consent (particularly as to the nature of “clear affirmative action”) and profiling – which is used throughout the proposal and therefore, says the opinion, requires a definition.
The opinion also criticized the Commission’s excessive recourse to ‘delegated acts’. Delegations appear “almost everywhere” in the Regulation, the EESC said, and cover “crucial aspects of the legal instrument“.

Importantly, the EESC believes the provisions exempting data controllers from their obligations on the grounds that “this proves impossible or involves a disproportionate effort” is “unjustifiable and unacceptable”.

Finally, the Opinion considers “unacceptable” that the threshold for children’s parental consent is set at 13 years old, despite the definition of a “child” being set at 18.

Next steps: Opinions from the EESC are not legally binding, and will be taken into consideration by the European Parliament and the Council as they continue to discuss and negotiate the adoption of a revision of the Data Protection framework. Debates will resume after the Summer recess.