UK-EU: Protection for whistleblowers: UK's planned implementation of EU Trade Secrets Directive criticised


UK-EU  
Protection for whistleblowers: UK's planned implementation of EU Trade Secrets Directive criticised
19.3.18
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"The UK government is currently in the process of bringing the 2016 EU directive on “trade secrets protection” into national law. The UK's draft regulations give businesses new rights to sue and extract financial damages from people who disclose companies’ internal information. But will journalists, whistle-blowers, and trade unions acting in the public interest also be caught up?

That concern has prompted more than 20 UK civil society groups - including Friends of the Earth, Global Witness, Greenpeace UK, National Union of Journalists, Public Concern at Work, Spinwatch, Tax Justice Network, Transparency International UK, and WhistleblowersUK - to urgently write to the relevant government minister, Sam Gyimah."

See: More secrecy rights for business in the UK? No thanks!(Corporate Europe Observatory, link)

See the letter from civil society organisations: Transposition of EU Trade Secrets Directive(pdf):

"We are writing regarding the UK’s imminent transposition of the EU’s Trade Secrets Directive. Our primary concern is to ensure that this law which is aimed at protecting legitimate trade secrets, does not hinder public scrutiny of corporate activities, or the publication of stories such as ‘Luxleaks’ which exposed the widespread use of officially-sanctioned corporate tax avoidance schemes in Luxembourg. We have a number of concerns regarding the Intellectual Property Office’s consultation on the UK application of the directive, including that it does not propose to transpose any of the important exceptions set out in Article 5 of the original directive."

Those exceptions concern whistleblowers, journalistic freedom and the information that can be released by public authorities.

The UK has previously been criticsed for "gold-plating" EU legislation - adding additional provisions when implementing Directives, allowing new national rules to be introduced without any significant scrutin.

In 2013 ministers promised that "gold-plating" had been stopped - in this case, a decision to exclude certain provisions in national implementing measures would appear to be the opposite of gold-plating.

See: Minister says UK 'gold plating' of EU laws has stopped (BBC News, link)

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