Friday, September 11, 2009

Privacy Wars

Following up on my earlier post on the institutional battles taking place in the area of privacy policy, I have now read in the European Voice that Commission President Barroso has promised the Europan Parliament's centrist Liberal Group to split the portfolio currently held by Commissioner Barrot -i.e. splitting fundamental rights and civil liberties from security and counter-terrorism (this in exchange for the group's support for his re-appointment).
If this happens, and on the assumption that the Data Protection Unit will belong to the fundamental rights and civil liberties Commissioner, the dynamics I described some time ago could change considerably. There would likely be a stronger focus on privacy protection from the Commissioner, who would be likely to clash with the security and anti-terrorism Commissioner from time to time. With the Commissioners for Information Society and Consumer Protection getting involved, it could get messy, with all sorts of coalitions conceivable.
It's early to make predictions, and much will depend on the personalities, but I will hazard a guess that at the very least, we'll be hearing a lot more about privacy in the media, and we may see a reaction against perceptions that the "War on Terror" has cost us too much in terms of our civil liberties. The review of the legislative framework that has just been opened will become a major political battleground.

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