Viviane Reding, the European Commission Vice President in charge of the reform of the European privacy law, has received negative opinions from a handful of Directorates-General in the European Commission on an internal draft of the General Data Protection Regulation. As a consequence, the draft will not be ready for the official publication that was originally scheduled for the end of January 2012. Instead, Commissioner Reding is said to be working on a communication outlining reconsidered objectives for the reform process. Publication of the draft Regulation is now expected sometime in February or March.

In December, the Directorate-General Justice circulated an internal draft of the Regulation (that recently was leaked to the public) to the other Directorates-General for the so-called “inter-service consultation.” The consultation process allows the Directorates-General not in charge of a legislative initiative to comment on a draft prior to its official publication. In this process, a handful of Directorates-General raised serious concerns, because the proposed draft Regulation is stricter than the strictest privacy laws in existence in the European member states or elsewhere in the world.

The negative opinions issued during the consultation process criticize the draft for its potential impact on businesses as well as public authorities in the European Union and abroad. The opinions refer to additional administrative burdens as well as overly restrictive requirements for data processing like consent requirements, limitations on profiling, documentation obligations and third country data transfer restrictions. On the whole, none of the opinions are surprising given the far-reaching restrictions proposed in the draft. So, while it seems fair to predict that things will not go as originally suggested, the scope and means of the future European privacy regime remains up in the air.