Concerns raised over EU data protection laws

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The draft EU regulation on data protection could harm small businesses in Europe, UK Justice Minister Chris Grayling has warned.

Speaking during a meeting of the Justice Council on 6 June 2013 he said the Commission's proposal could "impose a burden on small businesses that will make them less competitive, leading to fewer jobs".

Existing EU data protection laws date from 1995, and the new regulation - put forward by the Commission in January 2012 - is designed to make it easier for people to access their own data.

Users will have the right to demand that data about them be deleted if there are no "legitimate grounds" for it to be kept, and in cases where consent is required organisations must explicitly ask for permission to process data, rather than assume it.

Mr Grayling - along with ministers from Germany and Belgium - suggested that the new law should take the form of a directive rather than a regulation, meaning member states would have more flexibility in how to implement the law.

But Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding said a regulation would "generate trust in digital services by making sure our rules are up to date, replacing a patchwork of 27 different laws".

"One continent, one law; that is what I call opening the market," she concluded.

The Commission's proposals were supported by France's Justice Minister, Christiane Taubira, who said the new rules on consent would prove that "not saying anything is not the same as saying yes".

The proposals are currently be scrutinised by both the Council of Ministers and the European Parliament with a view to an agreement being reached in 2014.

The full public deliberations of EU ministers can be viewed here. and here.