Police will share data across Europe
Against privacy chief's advice
European police forces will have easier access to each others' information on criminals and suspects after ministers agreed a new data swap system. But Europe's data protection chief told OUT-LAW that his concerns over the system had been sidelined.
Two years ago some European countries signed a deal called the Prüm Treaty, which enabled police forces to compare and swap data more easily. The EU has now adopted that as its own law, with minor alterations, giving countries three years in which to rewrite domestic laws in compliance with the agreement.
The Council of Ministers agreed the new deal at a meeting of justice and home office ministers this week. It will open up police databases, including DNA databases, to queries from all other EU nations.
The UK had previously resisted joining the Prüm Treaty, but was a signatory to the new EU deal. "The UK is happy to sign up to this because we think it will help law enforcement," said a Home Office spokeswoman.
The deal has been agreed against the advice of the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS), whose role is to advise Europe's governing bodies on privacy and data protection issues.
"It seems that council has not sufficiently taken my remarks into account," Peter Hustinx, the EDPS, told OUT-LAW.COM. "There will for instance be a lot of variation in the level of data protection afforded by different member states as the decision does not harmonise it, but relies very much on national law.
"I also read that the council has failed to agree on a framework decision that provides a high level of data protection for law enforcement purposes throughout Europe. This is particularly worrying as that decision should be considered as the ground on which the specific data protection provisions of the Prüm Treaty rely, both in terms of substance and for minimum harmonisation of national law," said Hustinx.
The agreement of ministers from all 27 member states paves the way for the deal to be written into the laws of all those countries.
"It will be published in the Official Journal of the EU and following that there will be three years for member states to adopt national legislation in accordance with decision," said a spokesman for the European Council.
"Member states have to adopt legislation on the basis of the decision," he said. "They can copy and paste it, it is self-explaining, not like a Directive, which contains only objectives. This agreement contains a huge amount of legislation concerning DNA data and data protection rules, it is self explanatory."
New start-up requires IT staff
having failed to get a job in IT with an ethical company in the UK, I've decided to set up an off shore data store, where ever it's legal to aggregate all this private data being collected by our nice EU cousins. Then I intend to sell it to which ever British police force is having difficulty obtaining the data from their colleagues in the next county.
Reckon I could make a few bob before things go tits up entirely, anyone want a job ?
The End of Britain
Do you want your data been shipped off to Romania? How about Bulgaria? I don't trust this government to keep it secure, but I especially doubt Romanians can.
We are screwed.
Difficult for the UK
I'm intrigued by the fact that we're going to share data with the Europeans, when most of our county-based police forces can't share data between themselves at the moment. They all seem to have their own little databases, in different formats, so if the Europeans want data they're going to have to ask each Constabulary individually.