Feeds

Privacy chiefs vow to fight surveillance together

Call for global cooperation

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

A group of international data and privacy protection commissioners has decided to act together to challenge the surveillance society which they claim is developing. Commissioners from the UK, France, Germany and New Zealand will adopt common policies.

At the annual Conference of Data Protection and Information Commissioners, held last week in London, a joint set of objectives was adopted by the international commissioners aimed at tackling what they see as a growing international issue of constant citizen surveillance.

"The protection of citizens' personal data is vital for any society, on the same level as freedom of the press or freedom of movement," said the communiqué adopted by commissioners. "As our societies are increasingly dependent on the use of information technologies, and personal data is collected or generated at a growing scale, it has become more essential than ever that individual liberties and other legitimate interests of citizens are adequately respected."

The document calls on data and privacy commissioners to support the establishment of an international convention on data protection, which was first agreed on by commissioners in 2005.

"This initiative must be supported by DPAs with the competent institutions," said the document. "DPAs should endeavour to promote this initiative in their respective spheres of influence, in particular within the regional organisations or linguistic zones to which they belong. The need for global solutions respecting privacy and data protection may arise in specific sectors (e.g. internet governance, financial transactions, air transport) and must then be addressed by DPAs with all appropriate means."

The commissioners say international cooperation is vital because foreign precedents are often used by a government to justify action that erodes citizens' rights.

"National governments often use the argument that such and such a country has already put a system into place to attack their national data protection authorities for their reluctance to accept the same system without discussion," says the commissioners' document. "This causes serious problems of harmonisation and makes it necessary for DPAs to think together on the basis of common denominators."

The conference was hosted by the UK and the adoption of a set of common aims welcomed by UK Information Commissioner Richard Thomas. "We have debated the issue of surveillance society in detail," Thomas said. "The challenges facing society and commissioners are substantial, not just in terms of surveillance but also due to rapid technological developments. I fully support this initiative and it is encouraging to see data protection and privacy commissioners around the world committed to ensuring data protection remains relevant and effective."

Last week Thomas warned that the UK had become a surveillance society, and that the constant monitoring of individuals' actions by public and private bodies was creating social division. A report produced for the commissioner's office said that in the future wealthy people would be made more mobile by surveillance, while poorer people would find it harder to be physically and economically mobile because of social profiling based on data gathering.

See: The adopted document (7 page/83KB PDF)

Copyright © 2006, OUT-LAW.com

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

Security for virtualized datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Spies, avert eyes! Tim Berners-Lee demands a UK digital bill of rights
Lobbies tetchy MPs 'to end indiscriminate online surveillance'
How the FLAC do I tell MP3s from lossless audio?
Can you hear the difference? Can anyone?
Inequality increasing? BOLLOCKS! You heard me: 'Screw the 1%'
There's morality and then there's economics ...
Google hits back at 'Dear Rupert' over search dominance claims
Choc Factory sniffs: 'We're not pirate-lovers - also, you publish The Sun'
While you queued for an iPhone 6, Apple's Cook sold shares worth $35m
Right before the stock took a 3.8% dive amid bent and broken mobe drama
4chan outraged by Emma Watson nudie photo leak SCAM
In the immortal words of Shaggy, it wasn't me us ... amirite?
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.