Europe vs. Facebook: “They try to punch holes into the law, so that they can later slip through them.”

A campaign group formed by law students is alleging that data protection laws currently making their way through the European Parliament feature “copy and paste legislation” originating from IT company lobbyists.

The group, which calls itself Europe vs. Facebook, alleges that a number of MEPs (members of European Parliament), whom it has decided not to name, copied amendments to the bill directly from lobby papers from the financial and IT industries.

The bill, first presented to the European Parliament in 2012, will replace the national data protection laws in all EU member states and apply throughout the EU. Industry lobbyists in Brussels and EU member states have since been lobbying the proposals.

Max Schrems, Europe vs. Facebook group coordinator and spokesperson who is a law student at the University of Vienna, said of industry lobbyists: “They try to punch holes into the law, so that they can later slip through them.”

He added: “I read recent decisions by the European Parliament. When later reading some of the published lobbying papers I found a lot of interesting similarities… In many cases, parliamentarians copied amendments word-by-word from lobby papers by Amazon, eBay or the financial industry.

“It is not our intention to target individual MEPs but to show how years of lobbying by the industry perfectly worked and is now possibly destroying our rights.”

Facebook vs. Europe announced in December last year that it intended to challenge Facebook’s privacy policies in an Irish court; Facebook’s European business is incorporated in Ireland.

The group said that Facebook had failed to comply with European data protection law, despite repeated formal requests made by its members. It has established a crowd-funding initiative to aid its case.

Last year, the EU challenged Google over its privacy policy (29 October 2012).