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Data protection regulation warned against

19/08/14

Europe: Evidence-based policy making in Europe is at risk from changes to a data protection regulation being considered by the European Union, according to an open letter signed by almost 30 leading scientists.

The letter is the latest instalment of a string of calls for changes to regulatory amendments proposed by the European Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs in October 2013 and adopted by the European Parliament into a draft regulation in data protection earlier this year to be scrapped.

The letter warns of “dire consequences” for European research if the changes are approved and states that the amendments, designed to protect people’s personal data, could prevent “vital economic and social research.”

It adds that the use of personal data underpins “vitally important” discoveries, such as the link between smoking in pregnancy and child birth weight, and the benefits of breastfeeding.

“Restricting the use of personal data for these and many other types of study would limit our ability to ensure European policy making is informed by the most robust evidence base,” the authors state.

Among the signatories are leaders of national research councils and foundations in 13 European countries, including Paul Boyle, president of Science Europe and chief executive of the Economic and Social Research Council.

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