The European Ombudsman wants a 'clarification' of EU data protection legislation, which he claims is being abused by EU institutions and national governments to restrict access to public information
Jacob Söderman said that data protection rules are being misinterpreted "as implying the existence of a general right to participate anonymously in public activities". He added: "This risks subverting the principle of openness and the public's right of access to documents." Söderman's paper, 'The Misuse of Data Protection rules in the European Union', provides examples of these laws being cited. This includes when a newspaper applied for access to an EU register of permissions granted to European Commission officials for conducting "outside activities", but Brussels supplied a note with all names deleted. Another example is when the commission refused to reveal the identities of UK businesses that intervened in a preliminary Brussels hearing designed to solidify a case it had wanted to bring before the European Court of Justice, but that it ultimately dropped. In another case, the European Parliament decided to publish a register containing the names of assistants of Members of the European Parliament paid from EU funds, but opponents stalled its production.