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EU Data Protection Proposal Taken Word For Word From US Lobbyists 108

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the better-than-real-people dept.
Qedward writes "Glyn Moody looks at the proposed EU directive on Data Protection — and how some of the proposed amendments seem to be cut and pasted directly from the American Chamber of Commerce — that well-known European organisation... You might ask, Glyn writes, who are these MEPs representing — some 500 million EU citizens that pay their salary or a bunch of extremely rich U.S. companies intent on taking away our privacy?" Lobbyplag lets you look at which lobbyist wrote each part of the bill. Fears of the U.S. exerting undue influence seem to be justified.
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EU Data Protection Proposal Taken Word For Word From US Lobbyists

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  • they are just trying to save their grey matter... working is something prohibited for them!
    • by TheP4st (1164315) on Tuesday February 12, 2013 @08:01AM (#42869999)
      Reminds me about this from The Truth by Terry Pratchett:

      Mr Tulip looked down at the departing coach

      'From what I hear he mostly doesn't do a --ing thing!' he complained

      'Yeah,' said M. Pin smoothly. 'One of the hardest things to do properly in Politics'

  • Interesting (Score:5, Interesting)

    by azalin (67640) on Tuesday February 12, 2013 @04:30AM (#42869191)
    Not like we didn't know already, but it's still nice to see some proof once in a while. I hope this taints the whole proposal enough so they won't be able to push it through. I guess from time to time politicians need a Zero rupee note [wikipedia.org] to remind them.
    Imagine the outrage in the US if Chinese or European groups drafted a law for congress.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jonwil (467024)

      Someone should produce a Zero Dollar note for the USA and a Zero Euro note for the EU :)

    • Imagine the outrage in the US if Chinese or European groups drafted a law for congress.

      Why would anyone care? A proposed law should be judged on its merits, not its origin.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        in general yes, just it happens that when proposal arrives from external source, it more fits external source needs and not local.

    • by emaname (1014225)

      Imagine the outrage in the US if Chinese or European groups drafted a law for congress.

      Personally, I think there's nothing the people in the US could do about it now anyhow. If their "representatives" want to do something like that, they will. And they'll justify it to the people they "represent" in some twisted "in order to serve you better" way (which is "political code" talk for "there's nothing you can do about it").

      • by azalin (67640)
        Well I'm still partially living in this dream world where politicians are not reelected if they fuck up too much. On the other hand, I heard that Berlusconi is starting a comeback. That this guy has realistic chances, just baffles me out of my mind. Corruption charges, sex parties, an affair with an under aged prostitute, obstruction of justice, a messy divorce, crafting laws to prevent his own prosecution and a lot more. The man does have chutzpah though.
  • Odd (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 12, 2013 @04:31AM (#42869195)
    So, how does this work in EU?

    In US, lobbyists are the guys (officially) donating money to the candidate (which is, sadly, allowed). But I don't believe that such "donations" are allowed in EU.

    So what does it even mean "US lobbyist" here? Isn't simply giving money to MEPs illegal??

    • Re:Odd (Score:4, Interesting)

      by viperidaenz (2515578) on Tuesday February 12, 2013 @04:50AM (#42869297)

      What if the money happens to fall in to their US bank account, the one they didn't tell anyone they had?

      • by Anonymous Coward

        What if the money happens to fall in to their US bank account, the one they didn't tell anyone they had?

        Then the fact that these are "lobbyist" is an unproven allegation. US lobbyists (typically) document their donations. If this is not allowed in EU then either

        a. The authors of this website have evidence of illegal activity perpetrated by these "lobbyists" (illegally giving money to MEPs to influence their decision)

        b. They are pretty much guessing without knowing who may have paid how much money. Is the list of lobbyist-suggested changes a leak or also published? Couldn't tell from the article...

    • Re:Odd (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 12, 2013 @05:12AM (#42869351)

      [Disclaimer: I worked in the field.]

      Ever heard of social engineering? Political social engineering?
      Bribery is for schmucks. Losers who are too stupid to do actual lobbying.
      The whole point of lobbyism is that it isn't bribery (but social engineering).

      It's called "designed reality". A politician will have nothing but meetings with interest groups and about certain topics. Those meetings will be filled with practically only social engineers, who tell the politicians whatever they want him to believe, so he acts like they want him to. To the politician, this becomes his perceived reality. (That's why it doesn't matter even if it's the green or pirate party... they will all get sucked up into the designed reality.)
      The common notion that there would be an absolute reality, and such a thing as "facts", strengthens their belief in the distorted view. They will defend it as "fact" and "reality" to their death. (I bet even you want to defend this right now, don't you?)

      "donations"... pfft. lol.

      • Wow, that's one heck of a conspiracy theory. Sadly enough, it's arguably true, though I might confess that I'd prefer to be bribed instead of suckered were I a politician.
      • (I bet even you want to defend this right now, don't you?)

        You lot the bet because I am a rationalist.

        Rationalism - noun:
        The theory that reason rather than experience is the foundation of certainty in knowledge.

        What was your wager, again?
        Oh, well played... Well played indeed.

        I only perceived a reality in which you had made a bet. You've not lost your slimy touch.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Sadly this is true

        [Disclaimer: I work on the other side, sorta...]

        And it isn't even that hard. Often a Congressional staffer needs to research several topics with 48 hour notice (say, before a hearing or vote). They could go to Google and try and do it themselves, or they just call the most relevant Special Interest group about topic X. In 24 hours, the staffer gets a nice color/multimedia briefing on topic X from the lobbyist's point of view. This becomes the only data point they have and sets the real

      • by Aceticon (140883)

        Judging by the way things work in the UK, it's more of a case of "You look out for my interests now, I look out for your interests in the future".

        Certainly you see a lot of politicians and top regulators who are friendly to the interests of Financial Institutions in the City of London who retire to exceptionally well paid positions in said Financial Institutions.

        This is how it works in the UK and, in all appearences, in the US: there are no laws regulating conflict of interests, so it's extremelly common fo

    • by azalin (67640)
      Well simply giving politicians money (aka campaign funding and donations) would indeed be illegal. Inviting politicians over for dinner and explaining them your point of view is not (well, depends on what the invitation includes obviously) . Summing up your key points and arguments is fine and done by many interests groups. Preparing the text for a law proposal while not illegal, is somewhat shady and hopefully results in a few politicians being forced to step down or at least loosing credibility.
    • by sorisos (2702365)
      As far as I know, most EU lobbyist have established a role as a representative for a particular group and the lazy politicians just ask them what they believe would be a good decision/law/etc. In most cases there's no one to argue the opposite and if there is, the lobbyist make sure they have good "facts" to make sure their view will seem as most trustworthy. Of course there's probably a lot of fancy dinners and such (ie bribes) to get to that position.
    • Re:Odd (Score:5, Informative)

      by TheRaven64 (641858) on Tuesday February 12, 2013 @05:43AM (#42869469) Journal
      Bribery is only needed by bad lobbyists. The ones that are good at their jobs, like the MPAA and RIAA, appear to be representatives of an industry and therefore experts on a particular subject. Politicians are not expected to be experts on everything, they are expected to be willing to take advice from experts. When they need to draft a new law, the solicit the opinions of experts. The competent lobbyists have already insinuated themselves into the system and so are invited, as experts, to provide opinions to the politicians. Some of them really are experts, others are paid shills. The politicians, not being experts, are usually not able to distinguish the two.
      • by rtb61 (674572)

        Either that, or this is the real reason so many countries turn a blind eye to havens, where income including bribes is never declared.

      • You are giving politicians (and the lobbyist) in Europe too much credit. There are still a lot of shady financial transactions going on there. See for instance the scandal leading up to the resignation of Christian Wulff last year.

        I wouldn't be surprised if the MEPs were receiving more than just sweet words from the publishing lobby

    • Does the "how" really matter? Money has always and will always find influence in politics. You can spend your entire life fighting to close loopholes to try to keep it out, but there will always be more, and new ones opening up. And if you actually close one, your chances of having enough influence to close another one will vanish.

      Anyway, lobbyist money only succeeds in the presence of public apathy. If the voters don't give a shit that US businesses are writing their laws, no law concerning lobbyist
  • Welcome to the global economy, Skippy. What makes international graft and influence peddling any different from the common domestic kind? Is the EU so ethically superior to the US, Russia, or China?

    • Re:Ho Hum (Score:5, Insightful)

      by azalin (67640) on Tuesday February 12, 2013 @05:19AM (#42869373)
      I would compare ethical behavior in international politics to a giant whack a mole game. No one is really ethically superior and bad apples turn up everywhere. That why the hammer of public outrage should come down on them. The problem is some countries consider themselves exempt.
      • by Rockoon (1252108)
        The primary problem is that too many people want to blame the lobbyists instead of the politicians.

        Things have been framed as 'government vs corporations' by both government and corporations, because when people buy into that line of bullshit then they blame the corporations instead of the government, which results in nothing ever changing. The reality is that its 'government and corporations vs the people' and this is only possible because the politicians enable it.
  • It's hard to get rid of the lobbyists, but at least you should be able to get rid of the corrupt MEPs who listen to them.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      And who will you have to replace them?

      And how long will they stand aginst the epic tide of money and power?

      Every man has his price... And these large companies can meet it. Money? Power? Fame? Women? Men? Drugs?
      Anything.
      Legal or illegal.... What.... they can and have done it all in the past... what makes now any different?

      And those that cant be bought have 'accidents'. Or someone claims they raped them and there goes their support.

      • by Chrisq (894406)

        It's hard to get rid of the lobbyists, but at least you should be able to get rid of the corrupt MEPs who listen to them.

        And who will you have to replace them?

        With corrupt MEPs who listen to me instead of course!

    • Re:Throw 'em out! (Score:5, Informative)

      by Sique (173459) on Tuesday February 12, 2013 @05:32AM (#42869429) Homepage
      Lobbyists are people who try to influence members of the parliament. In former times they were allowed to enter the lobby of the House of Commons in England to meet sympathetic members of the House between sessions, thus the name. If you write to your congress critter, you are lobbying. If you discuss with them in town hall meetings, you are lobbying. If you talk to them in private, you are lobbying. Anything you do between elections to influence members of the parliament is lobbying. Do you really want to get rid of that?
      • by eagee (1308589)

        Anything you do between elections to influence members of the parliament is lobbying. Do you really want to get rid of that?

        Um, when that lobbying is for the benefit of a single multinational corporation instead of the greater good of the people served by the legislature - then yes, I absolutely want to get rid of that.

      • by mosb1000 (710161)

        What you've done here is construct a straw-man argument. The conventional definition of a lobbyist is someone who is employed to persuade legislators to vote for legislation that favors the lobbyist's employer. By bringing up the origin of the word and pretending that I was arguing against that, you have defeated an argument that only existed in your own twisted mind.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 12, 2013 @04:33AM (#42869211)

    US citizens don't want this either. As a German, I say, it's not right to blame them too. Yes, there's a pathetic passivity when it comes to rising up and saying no. But are we sure we wouldn't be too, in the face of intelligence agencies that actively disrupt any form of protest with false flag moles and propaganda / mass media (See: Occupy movement, W(ikileaks) T(ask) F(orce), even in other countries, like with the "orange revolution"), and eating mostly tiring high-fructose high-fat "food". I'm pretty sure that would leave me apathetic too.

    This is the government. And with that, I do not mean what e.g. teabaggers think they mean. I mean the corporations and their lobbyists. The actual ruling class in the US (and here too, mostly). The teabaggers just have never experienced an actual government, that is on their side against the ruling class. (Think French revolution against the nobility, or US independence against [foreign] nobility.) So you have to understand why they think they want a small "government". They actually want less lobbyists. Just like everyone else does.

    So... how about that? Let's get rid of lobbyists once and for all. Since the US government is already taken by them, we cannot rely on them ever changing that. Since the whole governmental system around it, is already shaped to allow nothing else, we cannot use elections or mass-media, etc, to do this. It has to come in the form of a "high-road" revolution, where the US citizens will push forward no matter what, but will not engage in the evilnesses, mass-murder, terrorism, etc, the corporation-rulers will no doubt engage in. No matter what. Otherwise it will just end up being the same after the revolution, since those revolting will have become like the ones they hated, in the process.

    As a German, who grew up in the 80s, let me say: I can haz cool America back again?

  • by ZorroXXX (610877) <<hlovdal> <at> <gmail.com>> on Tuesday February 12, 2013 @04:34AM (#42869215)
    And if you have any doubt that non-open influence of leaders is bad, please read Animal farm [gutenberg.net.au] by George Orwell to see an example of how bad things can get.
  • by tqk (413719)

    Fears of the rich exerting undue influence seem to be justified.

    FTFY. Surprise, surprise! Lawyers, politicians, bureaucrats and lobbyists. Did anyone expect anything other than this result?!?

  • by EnempE (709151) on Tuesday February 12, 2013 @04:37AM (#42869225)
    If you get a bunch of expert debaters and politicians, then ask them to make decisions about a complex and sensitive matter that they have no idea about, they are going to ask someone who knows a little more than them. They are going to be more able to listen to the louder voices among those who know more. It may just be that the loudest voices on the planet belong to Americans. I mean American companies.

    That data looks pretty safe to me, I mean, what could possibly go wrong ...


    In all seriousness though if these amendments are too ludicrous they won't go past proposals, and if they do they will struggle to make it to domestic legislation.
    we hope.
    • If you get a bunch of expert debaters and politicians, then ask them to make decisions about a complex and sensitive matter that they have no idea about, they are going to ask someone who knows a little more than them. They are going to be more able to listen to the louder voices among those who know more. It may just be that the loudest voices on the planet belong to Americans. I mean American companies.

      This is how it goes... However if they where smart, they would be able to understand what the background motives of the experts could be, and try to get opinions from several experts with differing motives (preferably also experts who's motives are not financial). This is where politicians seem to fail, at least here in Finland.

  • UK a US state? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by greatpatton (1242300) on Tuesday February 12, 2013 @04:38AM (#42869233)
    Funny to see that the commitee members having the highest percentage of amemdement made by US companies are comming from UK....
    • by azalin (67640)
      If the UK continues on it's current course, this problem will solve itself in a few years when the UK leaves the EU.
      • by Coisiche (2000870)

        It's going to be complicated.

        Could end up that Scotland is part of the EU and the rUK exits the EU. Then Wales and Northern Ireland could be unhappy about still being lumped with England since the strongest anti-EU sentiment is definitely concentrated in the south-east of England.

        The Conservative party is the most vocal anti-EU of the main parties and yet also the most vocal about adopting Central European Time. Bit schizophrenic, eh? Of course the pro-Tory press will daily promote the idea that European le

        • by Anonymous Coward

          It's going to be complicated.

          Could end up that Scotland is part of the EU and the rUK exits the EU. Then Wales and Northern Ireland could be unhappy about still being lumped with England since the strongest anti-EU sentiment is definitely concentrated in the south-east of England.

          The Conservative party is the most vocal anti-EU of the main parties and yet also the most vocal about adopting Central European Time. Bit schizophrenic, eh? Of course the pro-Tory press will daily promote the idea that European legislation on human rights makes it easy for terrorists to avoid jail and give all prisoners who actually end up there a cushy time while immigrants get an easy life at tax payers expense. The people who swallow all that seem to be a bit oblivious to the fact that EU directives on human rights and employment also protect them, which is the real reason the Tories want out; it'll be easier to oppress the proles.

          Never mind the fact that something like half the exports of the UK go to the EU zone. If Brits decide to leave the EU they'll be excluding themselves from any influence over the inner workings of their most important export market. It would be a truly bizarre situation if Scotland remained in the EU but England left and even more bizarre if Wales and other regions began to think about increased independence because they don't want to be dragged out of the EU by a bunch of ultra natinoalist English Tories. T

        • by jabuzz (182671)

          Thing is the European Convention on Human Rights has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with the European Union. So getting out of the E.U. won't help in that regard.

        • by Teun (17872)
          You paint an ugly picture of some vocal English, regretfully for the good natured Brits you are spot-on.
  • Yeah... And? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 12, 2013 @04:41AM (#42869253)

    Are you really shocked by this? The media companies already own the EU.
    Bought and paid for. Just like the rest of the world other than a few 'evil' countries who will eventually bend over just the same. They have no other choice left that doesn't lead to the same end.

    At the very least the mega raid should have tipped you all off by now. You WILL dance to the tune of the USA. And the USA dances to the tune of Hollywood.

    The only thing you should really be shocked by is it took them this long to roll it out. You'd better get used to the idea. The one world is here. And it's not under the thumb of some evil dictator or secret organization. It's the multinational corporations and the media industry is right there at the top of the list.

    And they've already won. We've been handing them money, power, and control for decades now. We are the good little consumers who WILL do as we are told or else. It's all over but the shouting and acceptance if we wan't our nice modern lives to continue.

    He was close... But only thought it was one country.

    "The real owners are the big wealthy business interests that control things and make all the important decisions. Forget the politicians, they're an irrelevancy. The politicians are put there to give you the idea that you have freedom of choice. You don't. You have no choice. You have owners. They own you. They own everything. They own all the important land. They own and control the corporations. They've long since bought and paid for the Senate, the Congress, the statehouses, the city halls. They've got the judges in their back pockets. And they own all the big media companies, so that they control just about all of the news and information you hear. They've got you by the balls. They spend billions of dollars every year lobbying lobbying to get what they want. Well, we know what they want; they want more for themselves and less for everybody else."

    "But I'll tell you what they don't want. They don't want a population of citizens capable of critical thinking. They don't want well-informed, well-educated people capable of critical thinking. They're not interested in that. That doesn't help them. That's against their interests. They don't want people who are smart enough to sit around the kitchen table and figure out how badly they're getting fucked by a system that threw them overboard 30 fucking years ago.

    "You know what they want? Obedient workers people who are just smart enough to run the machines and do the paperwork but just dumb enough to passively accept all these increasingly shittier jobs with the lower pay, the longer hours, reduced benefits, the end of overtime and the vanishing pension that disappears the minute you go to collect it. And, now, they're coming for your Social Security. They want your fucking retirement money. They want it back, so they can give it to their criminal friends on Wall Street. And you know something? They'll get it. They'll get it all, sooner or later, because they own this fucking place. It's a big club, and you ain't in it. You and I are not in the big club."
    -george carlin

    • by Teun (17872)
      These are proposed amendments

      Luckily enough the EU parliament consists of many individualists and providing some of them are made aware of this nice tally of subservience by some of their colleagues I see little chance of these amendments making it into the actual ruling.

  • by KPU (118762) on Tuesday February 12, 2013 @05:00AM (#42869317) Homepage

    While it is concerning that a U.S.-based lobby has this much power, the real issue is that nobody should be listening to the American Chamber of Commerce. If the EFF started writing EU legislation, we'd be jumping for joy.

  • "Fears of the U.S. exerting undue influence seem to be justified." More analytical judgment: bears shitting in the woods seems to be true.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    The worst offenders are from the UK, of which I am a citizen. Unfortunately, none of them represent the area I am from, although I am seriously considering contacting them anyway.

    Basically, these pigs with their snouts in the trough are traitors to the UK. By taking the position of US corporations, against the interests of their own citizens, personally I believe their citizenship should be revoked, and they should be deported to the US.

    • None of them represent my region either but I've written to them anyway, technically I wrote the the worse offender Malcolm Harbour but copied in Sajjad Karim and Giles Chichester all of whom have copy and pasted over 22% of their amendments (Harbour has copied >25% of his amendments) and all of whom are members of European Conservatives and Reformists.

      I don't expect an answer since none of them represent my region but I asked lots of questions about why they can't find time to think and write their own
      • Just as a follow up, I did get a response from Malcolm Harbour, but he sort of glossed over the points I raised and didn't really answer anything.

        He did close by saying that he thought that there are some interest groups lobbying against the proposed amendments which I found ironic because one of the points I raised was that he seems to only being listening to lobby groups representing big business, including those outside of the EU and ignoring individuals from inside the EU, i.e. his own consituents.
  • My response to this, and other nonsense regarding IP issues, can be lifted word for word from Arkell v. Pressdram. Both of them.

  • I went there, they refused to display anything unless I enable it - I hate sites like that. I would have read what they had to say, as it is I did not.
    • I would love to mod you up, but no points today. I, too, went there and found the "if you won't play with our javascript, we won't let you look". At least they were clever and entertaining about it.

      I have a similar fetish against unnecessary flash pages, and certain Very Large Game Companies have sites you cannot view without Flash installed. They, however, lack the sense of humor of Lobbyplag.

      Or perhaps the sense of humor of a constipated badger.

  • "Fears of the U.S. exerting undue influence..." Please don't conflate US based lobbyists exerting influence with the US itself exerting undue influence. Admittedly, we have been known to do that, but at least make the distinction when the offending party is a private party and not the United States itself/themselves.
  • I for one welcomed our lobbyist overlords years ago
  • I've checked all 4 MEPs mentioned in the article: all are Tory (conservative) British MEPs.

    This is the party that hammers the most and the hardest the "Blame it on the EU" key.

    I am physically sickened (though not at all surprised) that these lowlifes are completelly in the pocked of American interests.

    The sooner the UK leaves the EU, the better: we need to get rid of the turncoats working for foreign powers.

  • I know there are abuses, but simply agreeing with a lobbyists is nothing wrong. The MEP, it seems to me, has to think about businesses in Europe as well as individuals so there has to be a balance in the regulations. There could and should be lobbyists on both sides of an issue since all a lobbyists does is represent a group and bring their opinion to the decision makers. So here we have a business lobbyist convincing a conservative (pro business) MEP that the lobbyist's position has merit. Not a tough sel

    • by Teun (17872)

      So until someone starts talking about secret payments of some kind, all I see is someone being convinced.

      Just wait a couple of years until they're voted out.

      Not much later their knowledge of the subject at hand will be recognised by one of the companies that have sponsored the lobbyists and the ex politician gets appointed to the board of directors.

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