Quo vadis Europe for data protection and transparency?

by Peter Schaar, 2 June 2024

The framework conditions for digitalisation are increasingly being determined at European level. The EAID therefore asked the parties running in the European elections on 9 June 2024 eight questions on data protection and transparency. The wording of the answers received by the end of May (Bündnis 90/Die Grünen, CDU/CSU, SPD, FDP and Piratenpartei) can be found here. The most important results are summarised below. (Note: This text was translated using Deepl software)

With regard to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), a positive view prevails in all responses, despite differing emphases. All parties are in favour of the further development of European data protection. This applies in particular to the demand for greater harmonisation of legal requirements and supervisory practice in the member states. While the Greens and the Left are primarily focussing on the enforcement of data protection against Internet companies, the CDU/CSU and FDP attach particular importance to making data protection more innovation-friendly. The SPD is in favour of a comprehensive strengthening of the data protection supervisory authorities. The Pirate Party is calling for infringement proceedings against Ireland (where the European headquarters of large internet companies are located) in order to harmonise data protection supervision. The parties are all in favour of fewer bureaucratic regulations in order to reduce the burden on small and medium-sized companies and associations.

All parties are against the Belgian Council Presidency’s proposals on chat control. At the same time, they emphasise in their statements the need for effective protection of children and young people from sexualised violence and child abuse.

The Greens and the Pirate Party are fundamentally critical of age verification on the Internet. The CDU/CSU, SPD and Liberals are in favour of data protection-friendly solutions that do not disproportionately restrict the rights of users.

The Greens, FDP, Left Party and Pirate Party are against the retention of internet and telecommunications data without cause. The CDU/CSU is in favour of storing IP addresses for all serious criminal offences, particularly in the fight against child abuse. The Greens, the Left Party and the Pirate Party want to use the e-Privacy Regulation to achieve better protection against tracking and scanning of communication behaviour. The SPD also supports corresponding technical and legal solutions.

When it comes to artificial intelligence, the Greens, CDU/CSU and FDP emphasise the opportunities. At the same time, the Christian Democrats and Liberals warn against over-regulation. The Greens, SPD and FDP are in favour of the AI Act adopted by the EU, while the Pirate Party points out what it sees as insufficient protection against state surveillance.

In the view of the Greens and the CDU/CSU, the different supervisory regimes provided for in various EU legal acts on the digital space (including the GDPR, Data Governance Act, Digital Markets Act, Digital Services Act, AI Regulation) should be better coordinated and harmonised. The SPD is in favour of bundling supervision, while the FDP, Left Party and Pirate Party are more cautious and make changes to the supervisory structure dependent on experience yet to be gained.

The Greens, SPD, FDP, Left Party and Pirate Party are now active on TikTok. They refer to the constitutional mandate of the parties to contribute to the formation of opinion. At the same time, they – like the CDU/CSU – point out the company’s controversial practices and demand that TikTok’s violations of the law be stopped.

All parties want to strengthen transparency in EU institutions. The Greens, the SPD, the Left Party and the Pirate Party consider it necessary to amend the legislation governing public access to information.

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