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Corporate interests dominate group working on EU data law

Jennifer Baker | Nov. 7, 2013
A new study says big business has too much influence over EU lawmakers.

Meanwhile, Christopher Kuner of corporate law firm Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati is in the Data Retention group in a "personal capacity." But he is also the chairman of the International Chamber of Commerce task force on Privacy and the Protection of Personal Data, "not a role that can be considered independent," Alter-EU said.

Another series of groups that caused concern for Alter-EU are the so-called Licences for Europe groups that were set up by the Internal Market Department to examine "market-based solutions to improve the availability of digital content in the E.U."

The group is led by Maria Martin-Prat, who although originally at the Commission, is now deputy general counsel at IFPI (the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry). According to the report, the Internal Market Department does not publish a list of group or subgroup members, instead giving a list of those organizations invited to participate.

Alter-EU found that in the "User-generated content and licensing" subgroup, 78 percent of participants represent the copyright industry, while 13 percent represent civil society. In the 'intellectual property valuation' subgroup, eight of the 10 members represented corporate interests.

Another issue raised by Alter-EU is how group members are chosen. Since September 2012 only 40 percent of new groups put out public calls for membership.

But some departments fared better than others. Connect, the department responsible for the digital agenda, has made open calls for all of their groups created since September 2012. Connect groups also have twice as many academics as corporate representatives -- 8 percent and 16 percent, respectively.

Two groups were set up by Connect in the past year. The Advisory Forum for Research and Innovation in ICT includes 12 corporate members, 12 academic members, 1 hybrid and a two small businesses while on the Young Advisors Expert Group on implementation of the Digital Agenda for Europe only two out of 27 members are corporates.


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