A Committee of the European Parliament has recently proposed amendments to a regulation including online purchases using digital currencies such as bitcoin. Calling for customer data from such transactions to be stored in the EU, the goal is to protect consumers, it says.
The Purpose of the Regulation
The proposal was written by the European Parliament’s Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE). The 38-page report was published last week with amendments to a regulation by the European Parliament and the Council. ITRE is responsible for technology-intensive manufacturing, information technology, and telecommunications.
The regulation to be amended addresses “geo-blocking and other forms of discrimination based on customers’ nationality, place of residence or place of establishment”. The stated aim of the regulation is to ensure that customers and traders are not discriminated against.
Storing Personal Data at Centers in the EU
In the section of the report concerning digital currencies, the Committee urges the European Commission to consider a legal framework to protect consumers “when the transaction is carried through alternative modes of payment, including virtual currencies, other blockchain type transactions and e-wallets”. Specifically, the Committee proposed:
The personal data created by the e-commerce transactions should be stored in data centres in the Union, regardless of the location that the seat of the payment company is incorporated.
There is only one exception to the Committee’s proposal, which is for data controllers to get certified under the new EU data protection rules. Adopted last April, these rules referred to as the General Data Protection Regulation (Regulation (EU) 2016/679).
The new data protection rules enter into force on May 25, 2018. They apply to all foreign companies processing data of EU residents. “This innovation will particularly affect non-European Internet service providers”, wrote Michele Papa of Martini Manna law firm about the regulation.
While the new rules are supposed to provide for a harmonization of data protection regulations throughout the EU, they are costly and have strict penalties. Infringements of the Regulation’s provisions are subject to administrative fines up to €20,000,000.
EU’s Other Proposed Restrictions on Digital Currencies
The EU has been active lately proposing regulations that apply to bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.
The Commission introduced an action plan last February for fighting terrorist financing, which includes a provision on reducing anonymity associated with digital currencies. In July, it proposed making exchange platforms and wallet providers monitor suspicious digital currency transactions. Last month, the Juncker administration said fighting against money laundering and terrorist financing, which includes cryptocurrencies, is among its priorities. Two weeks later, the Commission laid out a roadmap to restrict payments in cash and digital currencies. This latest proposal adds to the list of EU’s attempt to reign them in.
What do you think of this new EU proposal? Let us know in the comments section below.
Images courtesy of Shutterstock and European Parliament
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