The term “displacement activity” has a technical meaning in animal biology, something I am happy to leave to the animal biologists. The lay use of the term connotes some activity undertaken in order to avoid having to do something else which is both imminent and important. I spent most of the run-up to my College of Law exams, for example, writing stories and articles about things which interested me – anything to defer having to learn about trusts and torts.
I am fortunate that I eventually found a way to monetise my displacement activity, making a business out of writing stories and articles about things which interest me. Even now, however, it occasionally becomes necessary to focus on something inherently dull, and nothing can be duller than an EU regulation (or, come to that, anything else which emanates from Brussels – even its scandals make one yawn). I was not therefore thrilled when someone leaked the draft texts of the General Data Protection Regulation and the Police and Criminal Justice Data Protection Directive, because that imposed a duty to read at least the first of these. It runs to 116 pages in its English-language version, so it could, if you printed it, serve as a pillow when your eyelids start to droop, as they will about three pages in.
A quick skim took me to the usual bit which describes how many more EU bureaucrats will be needed to carry on the good work, and I closed it quickly in case I broke something in rage (in the interests of wider Anglo-EU understanding, I should tell you that the French for “pen-pusher” is “gratte-papier”).
I have found all sorts of things to do to defer the moment when I must actually read the bloody thing, and have picked off any number of other tasks which appeared unexciting until set alongside the draft regulation. In my public spirited way, I have devoted myself instead to finding existing resources which give you a short-cut to understanding what the draft regulation says and what its implications are.
A good starting point from a UK–EU perspective is, as always, Outlaw.com, the excellent resource for legal news and guidance provided by Pinsent Masons. The attached article has a link to the leaked draft.
I understand from those who watch television that there is a trend at the moment for thrillers from Europe’s mainland with dark plots as impenetrable as their native languages, and female heroines in fashionable knitwear. Coming up in the next episode of this continental thriller: Why does almost everyone of influence hate so much of the draft regulation? Will the indomitable heroine Commissioner Viviane Reding win through against all odds and have her draft adopted before the end of January? Do you care enough to read to the end?
Unfortunately for you, as for for me, if you have any interest, in the broadest sense, in data protection and its impact on eDiscovery, I am afraid you should read it.