Feeds

Europe votes to restrict police data sharing

Data protection reinstated

The Power of One Infographic

The European Parliament voted on Monday night to reinstate the principles of data protection in legislation that would allow police across Europe to routinely share data about their activities.

As the Parliament has no authority in the third pillar (the EU's jurisdiction for police and judicial matters), the amendments it proposed last night have no official clout. But the European Council, which calls the shots on this framework, did formally ask the Parliament for its opinion on the matter, and the German Presidency has consulted MEPs.

Voting last night to endorse amendments that would ensure firmer data protection, MEPs have restored hope that data sharing between European police forces will only be allowed if it is done with proper regard for civil liberties.

The Germans have made the first concerted effort to revive the legislation since the Italian and Greek presidencies gave up on it in 2003 - largely because a few countries, most notably Britain, didn't like the idea that the common rules would be applied to national police operations as well.

They broke this deadlock by proposing that the legislation will only apply to data shared between European police forces and not to data held by national police forces. However, in three years the commission will look again to decide whether it ought to be applied nationally.

It is unlikely that the UK will be any happier about giving up its sovereignty over police and judicial matters in a few years time, so the rules are unlikely to be applied nationally. But until that happens, a fundamental problem the data guardians had with the legislation still stands, which makes their support of this compromise look a little curious.

Their problem stemmed from the proposal that the police shouldn't send data to other forces that don't also have an adequate level of data protection: if police received data from a country that didn't have adequate data protection law, they'd never be sure how reliable it was; if they sent data to a country that didn't have adequate data protection law, they could never guarantee the information wouldn't be abused or get into the wrong hands.

The current restriction on national jurisprudence thus looks unworkable. But the Parliament has reinstated an amendment that would prevent the police from sending data to third countries that don't have adequate data protection.

If that survives the next vote in the council, the national harmonisation of police data protection rules might be forced by default. MEPs think this might also have something to say about Europe's co-operation with controversial US data snooping programmes like PNR and Swift.

Germany's compromise might also allow the Parliament's other amendments, which address the strong reservations the European Data Protection Supervisor expressed about the legislation last month, to pass the hawkish Council when it meets in June. ®

HP ProLiant Gen8: Integrated lifecycle automation

More from The Register

next story
Yorkshire cops fail to grasp principle behind BT Fon Wi-Fi network
'Prevent people that are passing by to hook up to your network', pleads plod
UK government officially adopts Open Document Format
Microsoft insurgency fails, earns snarky remark from UK digital services head
Major problems beset UK ISP filth filters: But it's OK, nobody uses them
It's almost as though pr0n was actually rather popular
HP, Microsoft prove it again: Big Business doesn't create jobs
SMEs get lip service - what they need is dinner at the Club
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
MPs wave through Blighty's 'EMERGENCY' surveillance laws
Only 49 politcos voted against DRIP bill
Help yourself to anyone's photos FOR FREE, suggests UK.gov
Copyright law reforms will keep m'learned friends busy
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.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Reducing security risks from open source software
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
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.