Feeds

Terrorism no excuse for privacy breaches, says EU regulator

No need to change laws

Top three mobile application threats

Terrorism and organised crime should not be used as excuses for passing laws which undermine people's privacy and data protection rights, according to the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS). Existing laws do not need changed, he said.

In an update on data protection in Europe, EDPS Peter Hustinx said that security concerns were not an adequate reason to undermine data protection principles.

"It is a misconception that protection of privacy and personal data holds back the fight against terrorism and organised crime," said Hustinx. "Current legislation does allow, for instance, law enforcement to check suspicious phone numbers found in a computer."

The EDPS has recently advised EU bodies on controversial issues of data protection such as the disputed transfer of airline passenger data to the US, telecoms data retention and EU information technology systems.

New laws and practices are being introduced in the aftermath of terrorist attacks in the US, Madrid and London which put security concerns and data protection in direct conflict. An EU deal cut with authorities in the US to transfer airline passenger data was opposed by the EU Parliament and struck down by the European Court of Justice on procedural grounds.

Other legislation causing controversy are the laws introduced by member states to comply with the Data Retention Directive. The Directive calls for telephone, email and internet data to be kept for up to two years by telecoms firms and is being opposed by civil rights groups.

One group, Digital Rights Ireland, is taking the Irish government to court over the Irish law based on the Directive and hopes to overturn the Directive itself. The Irish state is also taking a legal challenge against the Directive, but on procedural, not privacy, grounds.

Hustinx said that the idea that a state must choose either good security or good data protection is flawed. "Good data protection actually goes hand in hand with legitimate crime fighting because it increases the quality of databases and at the same time makes sure that only the right people can access them," he said.

Copyright © 2006, OUT-LAW.com

OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

More from The Register

next story
BBC goes offline in MASSIVE COCKUP: Stephen Fry partly muzzled
Auntie tight-lipped as major outage rolls on
You! Pirate! Stop pirating, or we shall admonish you politely. Repeatedly, if necessary
And we shall go about telling people you smell. No, not really
Airbus promises Wi-Fi – yay – and 3D movies (meh) in new A330
If the person in front reclines their seat, this could get interesting
UK Parliament rubber-stamps EMERGENCY data grab 'n' keep bill
Just 49 MPs oppose Drip's rushed timetable
ITC: Seagate and LSI can infringe Realtek patents because Realtek isn't in the US
Land of the (get off scot) free, when it's a foreign owner
Samsung threatens to cut ties with supplier over child labour allegations
Vows to uphold 'zero tolerance' policy on underage workers
Dude, you're getting a Dell – with BITCOIN: IT giant slurps cryptocash
1. Buy PC with Bitcoin. 2. Mine more coins. 3. Goto step 1
There's NOTHING on TV in Europe – American video DOMINATES
Even France's mega subsidies don't stop US content onslaught
prev story

Whitepapers

Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.