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[liberationtech] <nettime> Copy & Paste in Brussels
eugen at leitl.org
Wed Feb 13 07:38:27 PST 2013
----- Forwarded message from Felix Stalder <felix at openflows.com> -----
From: Felix Stalder <felix at openflows.com>
Date: Wed, 13 Feb 2013 15:58:45 +0100
To: nettime-l at kein.org
Subject: <nettime> Copy & Paste in Brussels
User-Agent: Mozilla/5.0 (X11; Linux i686;
rv:17.0) Gecko/20130106 Thunderbird/17.0.2
It's interesting how ideas and experiences shift shapes over time.
For the few years now there has been a particularly German obsession
with plagiarism in academic dissertations. Initially, this has been
employed to embarrass political figures and promote a self-righteous
discourse of academic pedantry, but it has also led to a distributed
infrastructure/community for checking unacknowledged sources in texts.
And now, this infrastructure is used for quite different purposes:
matching lobbying text to legal documents that are being drafted by
While nobody can be surprised by the fact that lobbyists do shape
legislation, it's still revealing to this this nicely visualized and
connected to the names of the MPs who did the actual copy & pasting.
Tory MEPs 'copy and paste Amazon and Google lobbyist text'
Senior Conservative MEPs have been accused of cutting and pasting text
from lobbyists from Amazon, Google and other major online enterprises
directly into legal amendments to European Union legislation on consumer
The European Parliament is debating a new EU "general data protection
regulation" with important implications for how internet search engines
and online retailers handle users' personal information, including
sensitive health, background and credit details.
The legislation, proposed by the European Commission a year ago, is going
through the EU assembly, which has the power to amend the law, triggering a
huge lobbying campaign by the internet industry to change the regulations.
Campaigners for tighter privacy laws covering social media and online
retailers have published research at www.lobbyplag.eu showing close links
between the wording of industry proposals and amendments tabled in the
European Parliament's committees.
The campaigners have charted what they claim are "striking similarities
between proposed amendments and lobby papers written by representatives of
Amazon, eBay, the American Chamber of Commerce and the European Banking
Federation". "Dozens of amendments are being copied word-for-word from
corporate lobby papers," they said.
Privacy campaigners are concerned that industry amendments tabled by MEPs
will dilute legal requirements allowing companies to water down tough new
rules on the processing of sensitive, personal information and loosening a
requirement for mandatory data protection supervisors within businesses.
Malcolm Harbour, Conservative MEP for the West Midlands and chairman of
the parliament's committee on the internal market and consumer protection,
which is overseeing the legislation, has been accused of copying over 25
per cent of his amendments from industry.
Research found that 14 out of 55 amendments tabled by Mr Harbour were
"copied directly from lobby papers", with the senior Tory also taking a
coordinating role in getting other MEPs, to table similar changes in other
Sajjad Karim, Conservative MEP for the North West of England and a member
of the parliament's committee on legal affairs, proposed amendments "with
over 23 per cent copy-pasted content".
Another Tory, Giles Chichester, MEP for South West England and Gibraltar
and a member of the committee on industry, research and energy, followed
with "over 22 per cent copy-pasted content".
While there is no suggestion of wrongdoing or breaches of the parliament's
rules, privacy campaigners fear that MEPs are listening to industry and not
"We would hope that MEPs are taking all sides of the argument into account
when making law, not just the richest and most powerful corporate
interests," said Anna Fielder, a trustee of Privacy International.
Mr Harbour insisted that listening to industry, and privacy campaigners,
was part of the democratic process and "disputed" the 25 per cent figure
"Many of our points were aimed at making the regulation fit for small
enterprises, many of whom feel that their businesses would be threatened
by the costs generated from certain provisions in the original proposal.
That was why we modified a number of the detailed requirements," he said.
"I do not believe we should immediately discount proposed amendments when
they come from businesses that make use of and are responsible for
protecting personal data. I will continue to consider all amendments on
the basis of their merits in making the proposal more workable."
Mr Karim and Mr Chichester declined to comment, but Conservative sources
said that they had followed Mr Harbour's lead in tabling amendments.
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