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Europe’s Trade Secrets Directive is still a threat to truthtellers

We’ve written before about the EU Trade Secrets Directive and the danger wholesale protection of commercial information poses for whistlebloweing and commercial information. The recent trial of Antoine Deltour in Luxembourg amply demonstrates the threat commercial secrecy laws pose to the disclosure of information that couldn’t be more clearly in the public interest.

The expansion of protections for trade secrets isn’t only a problem for investigative journalism in Europe. President Obama also signed an American Defend Trade Secrets Act into law this month.

Europe’s Trade Secrets Directive has been opposed by more than half a million petitioners across the EU and even the editorial board of the New York Times.

Alleged LuxLeaks whistleblower Antoine Detour has registered his opposition to the directive in a statement released last month:

The exemptions foreseen in this directive to supposedly protect whistle-blowers would not protect me, nor the journalist, because we did not reveal anything illegal, just immoral. This directive will enable companies to sue anyone who accesses, uses or publishes an information that they consider a trade secret, which, according to the definition foreseen in the text, can be almost any internal information. It applies to all citizens and not, as it should, to economic competitors only.

Despite the strength of opposition, the Trade Secrets Directive has been passed by the European Parliament and is now awaiting approval by the European Council, which comprises the heads of government of the EU’s member states. An open letter, signed by Courage and submitted to the members of the Council, makes the case for changes to the Directive and for proper protection for whistleblowers throughout the EU.

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