Feeds

Data watchdogs write then bury transparency plan

We'd love to tell you about it. But we won't

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

European privacy guardians committed themselves to transparency and openness last week - but haven't gotten round to telling anyone yet.

The Article 29 Working Party, which is made up of representatives from all of Europe's data protection authorities, had formally adopted a declaration of transparency at its meeting last Wednesday and Thursday, said sources close to the group.

They've been talking about an urgent need to communicate their arcane activities more effectively for some years. They fear that people's liberties are being whittled away by European governments that are eagerly applying rapidly evolving technologies for the purpose of crime detection, law enforcement and social sorting, but are doing so with little regard for people's privacy.

But today, a week on, the paper has still not been published. The Register understands that it makes reference to the urgent need for the Working Party to make its communications fast and effective.

A summary of the proceedings said it had merely "developed a strategy for enhancing the transparency of its work" and "agreed on ways to enhance transparency and communication".

In the days before the meeting, the secretariat of the Working Party at the European Commission refused to release its agenda: "The draft agenda for the meetings are also only available to its members," said one of the secretariat staff, who subsequently said they were unable to answer enquiries.

The declaration of transparency, which had already been distributed among members before the meeting, is thought to contain a promise that the committee's meeting agendas and rough minutes will be shared with the public.

It was a revision of a similar paper published in 2003, but the document was also not available. Opinions on pressing PNR and SWIFT, issues of significance for transatlantic relations in the "war on terror", were not on the Working Party's website, neither was another on "binding corporate rules", which might have something to do with SWIFT, or so we must deduce ourselves from the Spartan summary.

An opinion on electronic health records has appeared within the last two days, but other matters discussed in the meeting get only cursory references: "The WP discussed the protection of children's privacy with a view to establishing a common view on the issues at stake," it declared without further elaboration.

The transparency initiative had evolved from last November's joint declaration of information commissioners, an annual announcement of near religious importance to privacy wonks.

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
Arrr: Freetard-bothering Digital Economy Act tied up, thrown in the hold
Ministry of Fun confirms: Yes, we're busy doing nothing
ONE EMAIL costs mining company $300 MEEELION
Environmental activist walks free after hoax sent share price over a cliff
'Blow it up': Plods pop round for chat with Commonwealth Games tweeter
You'd better not be talking about the council's housing plans
Help yourself to anyone's photos FOR FREE, suggests UK.gov
Copyright law reforms will keep m'learned friends busy
Apple smacked with privacy sueball over Location Services
Class action launched on behalf of 100 million iPhone owners
UK government officially adopts Open Document Format
Microsoft insurgency fails, earns snarky remark from UK digital services head
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
prev story

Whitepapers

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.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
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.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.