The European Privacy Association, after being caught out for failing to respect the rules of the European Transparency Register, has issued a defence of its actions. An article published by IDG News Service describes Google, Microsoft and Yahoo as the “secret backers” of the organisation. The EPA, in its defence, explains that it is a “small organisation”, with a budget of 50 000 to 100 000 Euro. Furthermore, it is “primarily” a voluntary association.

As a “small” organisation, it has major corporations paying at least ten thousand Euro to it. This money is used to ensure the services of a former Member of the European Parliament and an Italian lobbying company (Competere). That lobbying company's personnel overlaps with that of the US lobbying organisation DCI Group. DCI Group lobbying specialism is using “3rd party organisations” to “re-frame” issues and define them in “more favourable terms”. This sounds more than a little like the European Privacy Association.

As a “small organisation”, that has used the services of both Competere and DCI Group, the EPA has managed to run an impressive number of plush lunches and breakfasts in the European Parliament. This year alone, there was:
- 21 January 2013: lunch with conservative (EPP) parliamentarian Sean Kelly on profiling;
- 20 February 2013: lunch with conservative parliamentarian Lara Comi on data transfer in the cloud;
- 16 March 2013: breakfast with conservative (EPP) parliamentarian Axel Voss on data transfer to third countries;
- 11 April 2013: breakfast with Green parliamentarian Jan-Philipp Albrecht on consent.

The companies behind the European Privacy Association also appear to be making something of a habit of accidentally failing to disclose all relevant information in the Transparency Register. Only last year, an e-mail was sent by the “Initiative for a Competitive Marketplace” (iCOMP) to Members of the European Parliament. The e-mail included a transparency register number. However, the number was not that of iCOMP but of lobbying company Burston Marsteller, whose transparency register entry provided no reference at all to iCOMP. In reality, Microsoft was instrumental in setting up iCOMP and Burston Marsteller also represents Microsoft. As a result of a complaint to the Transparency Register, changes were made that were considered satisfactory by the Transparency
Register secretariat and no sanctions were imposed.

Google, Microsoft and Yahoo are secret backers behind European Privacy Association (20.05.2013)

Complaint against EPA (15.05.2013)

EPA Press Statement (17.05.2013)

DCI Group

Microsoft Funding Anti-Google Trade Group Since 2007 (6.12.2010)

(Contribution by Joe McNamee - EDRi)

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