New secrecy rights for business? No Thanks!

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Coalition of civil society groups, citizens and journalists ask MEPs to reject the Trade Secrets Directive


Proposed EU legislation on “Trade Secrets Protection” (1) creates excessive rights to secrecy for businesses and is a direct threat to the work of journalists and their sources, whistleblowers, workers' freedom of expression, and rights to access public interest information (on medicines, pesticides, car emissions, etc.).


Ahead of a European Parliament debate on the issue on April 13th, a pan-European coalition of NGOs, trade unions, journalists, whistleblowers and researchers (see list below) sent today to Members of the European Parliament a critical analysis (2) of the proposed legislation, asking them to reject it. The coalition also launched a petition against the text (3).


The definition of trade secrets the directive foresees is so broad that almost all internal information within a company can be considered a trade secret. It will put anybody revealing such information without the company's consent at risk.


Patrick Kamenka, from the French National Union of Journalists, said: “citizens, journalists, scientists... sometimes also need to have access to and publish this information to defend the public interest. They could now face legal threats, years in prison and heavy fines worth hundreds of thousands of euros for doing so, as Antoine Deltour and Edouard Perrin in the Luxleaks affair. This effectively prevents people reporting corporate misconduct or wrongdoing. Which media editor can afford to take the risk of financial ruin?”


It gets worse. If the directive is approved at the European level, member states will be able to go further when they adapt it into national law - and be lobbied by industry all over Europe to do so.


Martin Pigeon from Corporate Europe Observatory added: “This is not going to be an easy battle: multinational corporations have been lobbying for this directive for years and heavily influenced the text while the general public hardly knows anything about it. The text can today no longer be changed. We call on the European Parliament to reject it.”


(1) The directive's official name is “Directive on the protection of undisclosed know-how and business information (trade secrets) against their unlawful acquisition, use and disclosure”


(2) See


(3) See


List of supporting organisations


ATTAC France
Centre national de coopération au développement, CNCD-11.11.11
BUKO Pharma-Kampagne
CCFD-Terre Solidaire
CGT Cadres, Ingénieurs, Techniciens (UGICT-CGT)
Collectif Europe et Médicament
Collectif de journalistes “Informer n'est pas un délit”
Comité de soutien à Antoine Deltour
Commons Network
Corporate Europe Observatory
Courage Foundation
Fédération Syndicale Unitaire (FSU)
Fondation Sciences Citoyennes
Force Ouvrière-Cadres
Health and Trade Network
Institut Veblen
International Society of Drug Bulletins
Les économistes atterrés
Ligue des Droits de l'Homme
Observatoire Citoyen pour la Transparence Financière Internationale (OCTFI)
OGM Dangers
Nordic Cochrane Centre
Pesticides Action Network Europe (PAN-Europe)
Plateforme Paradis Fiscaux et Judiciaires
Public Concern At Work
Syndicat des Avocats de France (SAF)
Syndicat National des Chercheurs Scientifiques (SNCS – FSU)
Syndicat National des Journalistes (SNJ)
Syndicat National des Journalistes CGT (SNJ-CGT)
Transparency International France
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