Members of Congress, EU Parliament Discuss Privacy, IP

CCIA Executive Vice President Erika Mann and the former chair of the Congressional Internet Caucus Rick Boucher opened a roundtable discussion Thursday between members of Congress and the European Parliament on privacy and intellectual property as part of Transatlantic Week in Congress. Mann helped found the European Internet Foundation, the counterpart to the Congressional Internet Caucus, when she was a member of the European Parliament.

For small or large Internet companies, their market is international. As the Internet knows no borders, this was an opportunity for members to discuss pending legislation as any action from the United States or Europe has global impact – particularly on privacy and intellectual property issues.

European members of Parliament expressed concern with legislation the Senate Judiciary Committee reintroduced and approved this year that would censor the Internet – with the Justice Department keeping a blacklist of domains suspected of copyright infringement and then directing Internet access providers and companies to stop doing business with those domains. European and US members of Congress expressed concern about the House taking up action on the controversial PIPA legislation – despite calls from 100 law professors, Internet engineers and non-profits to find a way to better protect copyright without breaking the Internet.

In Europe, there is pending legislation to create a single market for IP rights. The current EU system with 27 different intellectual property regimes makes it difficult for Europe to compete.

European and U.S. legislators also discussed their different approaches to online privacy and possible ways to have greater alignment. Former Rep. Boucher said he had high hopes Congress would pass a baseline privacy bill this year.

The Members of the European Parliament discussed currently ongoing efforts to reform the EU Data Protection Directive with an aim to harmonizing the various member states’ laws and updating the 16-year-old law in light of new technologies.

Mark Berejka also announced that the Commerce Department would have its privacy white paper done by the end of the summer.

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