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23 February 2015
Insufficient data protection measures & lack of transparency key issues in run up to TTIP vote
Jan Philipp Albrecht has submitted his draft opinion on TTIP negotiations for the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs in January. This is part of the preparations for a European Parliament resolution on the Transatlantic Free Trade Agreement TTIP that will be voted in May. Many other EP Committees are involved, but the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs has a special position since it is exclusively responsible for assessments on fundamental rights concerns. Jan Philipp Albrecht is Rapporteur of the LIBE Committee on TTIP.
The draft opinion is reminiscent of the special inquiry on mass surveillance that was conducted by the Parliament after the Snowden revelations. It warns against any restrictions of data protection, and clearly refers to the problems caused by secret negotiations as well as planned investor protection clauses that could potentially overturn national laws or regulation. The opinion will be discussed with shadow rapporteurs in the weeks ahead and voted on on March 31st after negotiations on the 90 amendments haven taken place.
The "Transparency Initiative" launched by the European Commission -- a small number of documents from EU negotiators have been published -- is so far not sufficient with regard to the data protection issues in TTIP. The Commission claims that European data protection will not be affected by TTIP, but is even contradicted by the German Federal Ministry of Economics which states: "Data protection issues regarding trade in services, in e-commerce, or in the ICT sector are addressed with the aim of finding common understanding." The US government wants to undermine European data protection through trade agreements such as is confirmed by the TiSA leaks of December 2014. Also, no draft of the chapter on e-commerce has so far been published, and no-one can verify the Commission's statement -- not even MEPs responsible for the areas, like Jan Philipp Albrecht, can view these documents at the moment.
Until all negotiation documents are published we can only continue to meet the Commission's assertions regarding data protection with utmost suspicion. Even the EU Ombudsman has called for greater public access in her decision on the lack of transparency of trade talks.
 See also "TTIP and TiSA: big pressure to trade away privacy" at http://ttip2014.eu/blog-detail/blog/data%20protection%20TTIP%20TiSA.html