A platform to flush out the lobbies

Published on 12 February 2013 at 14:14

A small initiative has got underway to take on the nebulous interest groups that orbit around the European Parliament. Under the headline “Stick that in the law,” the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung introduces the brand-new project Lobbyplag, a participatory online platform and examines how the new Directive on data protection, currently being negotiated in parliamentary committees in Brussels, comes under the sway of the big Internet firms.

“If you want it, Lobbyplag is a free service for all members who would like to know where the amendments that wriggle into the legislation come from,” writes a mildly sarcastic Richard Gutjahr, co-initiator of the project, on his blog.

Joined by the now well-known Facebook critic Max Schrems and four other volunteers, Gutjahr has adopted work methods used by the “Europe vs. Facebook” initiative to compare proposals that lobbyists bring to MEPs with the amendments that get introduced by the latter.

The coincidences are sometimes amazing. The European Banking Association, for example, proposed that a company should be allowed not only to store data on its customers out of its own “legitimate interests”, but also to pass it on to other companies. This proposal can be found in “Amendment 70”, presented to the Committee on the Internal Market. Looking more closely, Lobbyplag discovers that the amendment was put forward by the Swedish MP Anne Hedh.

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On this subject, notes EUobserver, Transparency International has observed that “several MEPs have copied and pasted amendments written by American Internet giants”, among them the bookseller Amazon and the Ebay auction site, “directly into the text of the Directive on personal data protection.”

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