European coalition of civil society organisations, citizens and journalists ask Members of the European Parliament to reject the Trade Secrets Directive

The proposed EU legislation on “Trade Secrets Protection”, which the European Parliament will vote next April 14, creates excessive rights to secrecy for businesses: it is a direct threat to the work of journalists and their sources, whistleblowers, employees’ freedom of expression, and rights to access public interest information (on medicines, pesticides, car emissions, etc.).

A pan-european coalition of NGOs, trade unions, journalists, whistleblowers and scientists sent today to Member of the European Parliament a critical analysis of the proposed legislation [1], asking them to reject it and to ask the European Commission to write a better one. They also launched a petition against the text [2].

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”. The definition of trade secrets it 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.

“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.

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 See