Data Protection, European Legislation, and Farage

Keeping our data private to reduce the likelihood of identity theft or other crimes, or merely to avoid nuisance phone calls and emails; is something we all take for granted in this country. And most of us welcome it

If one books a foreign holiday through an agency here in the UK either in person or online; this will involve giving them some personal information. The holiday will involve accommodation in another country and could well involve a foreign carrier such as Air France or KLM. The agency needs to share our personal information with them. How do we know that my data will be safe and looked after when it leaves these shores?

Because all countries within the European Union have similar high levels of data protection legislation.

One quote from UKIP leader Nigel Farage which is often repeated is that “75% of all the laws that are made in our countries every year are made by these institutions” – meaning the European Union. Now the exact percentage is a matter of some debate but is in reality probably much lower (anything from 15 to 55%). See https://factcheckeu.org/factchecks/show/136/nigel-farage and http://commonslibraryblog.com/2014/06/02/how-much-legislation-comes-from-europe/

My argument is that whatever the actual figure, we would probably have to make most of this legislation ourselves  anyway; and much of it is merely ‘harmonising’ things across the EU; as with Data Protection. Without the benefit of a Europe wide institution we could well be involved in many bi-lateral agreements with other countries – each one being subtly different from the next. Outside the European Union, Britain would not be able to influence the nature of the legislation but would have to make our own legislation in harmony with it. (not much independence there)

Safe Harbor

This is already partly the case with the USA. They have little in the way of data protection either at federal or state level. This means that US multinationals or European countries with US subsidiaries couldn’t exchange data across these jurisdictions without breaking the law – hence they couldn’t function. To make it possible for them to function US Department of Commerce set up the “US-EU Safe Harbor Framework”. On joining the scheme, companies agree to follow a set of data protection guidelines at least as good as those operating in the EU. So if the “EU tail can wag the US dog” where would an independent UK stand?

I realise that Data Protection may be a special case, but in many areas rules need to be harmonised for people to trade, whether it is Fisheries, Food Safety, Vehicle pollution to name but a few. In addition the world is becoming a more connected place. When UKIP was founded in 1993, the internet was in its infancy; now people conduct retail sales across international boundaries, and commit crimes them also.

It is time for some people to stop worshiping at the “Alter of the Holy Cow of Sovereignty”.
……… Nigel it is time to wake up and smell the coffee!

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