Feeds

EU privacy watchdog laments weakened privacy proposals

Council of ministers 'watering down' protection

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup

The European Union's Council of Ministers has weakened proposals to overhaul EU privacy laws and left people with fewer protections for their personal information, the privacy watchdog for EU institutions has warned.

The European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) has said that the Council's revisions to European Parliament and Commission plans to update electronic privacy law leave citizens less protected than before. "In quite a few cases [Parliament and Commission] amendments offering safeguards to the citizens are deleted or substantially weakened," said the EDPS opinion. "As a result, the level of protection offered to individuals in [the Council-amended version of the plans] is substantially weakened."

The European Commission's Privacy and Electronic Communications (PEC) Directive is under review, a process which has involved the Council amending proposals made by the Commission and the Parliament.

EDPS Peter Hustinx said that he had made suggestions about how privacy rights could be strengthened, and that not only had they been ignored but the Council had watered down existing plans.

The EDPS ensures that EU bodies comply with data protection law and provides advice on privacy and data protection issues.

The new revisions to the PEC Directive include the creation of a security breach notification law, which would force companies which lose personal information to make that loss publicly known.

In an opinion last year, Hustinx said that the application of this should be extended beyond the planned telecoms service providers and should also apply to those providing services over the internet.

"Citizens will expect such a system to apply not only to their Internet access providers, but also to their on-line banks and on-line pharmacies," he said. "The full benefits of security breach notification will be best realized if the legal framework is set right from the outset. To this end, the Parliament and the Council will need to meet the challenge of determining the proper standard setting forth the conditions for notification and ensuring that the appropriate processes are put into effect."

Hustinx also backed the Parliament's proposal that gives consumers associations the ability to take action against organisations that breach the Directive's provisions.

One area in which Hustinx disagrees with all three EU bodies is in the plan to collect and monitor internet traffic for security purposes. The EDPS said that this was "unnecessary".

"In the EDPS view, such a provision may be subject to risk of abuse, especially if adopted in a form that does not include the necessary data protection safeguards," said an EDPS statement.

See: The opinion (20-page/35KB pdf)

Copyright © 2008, 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
Britain's housing crisis: What are we going to do about it?
Rent control: Better than bombs at destroying housing
Top beak: UK privacy law may be reconsidered because of social media
Rise of Twitter etc creates 'enormous challenges'
GCHQ protesters stick it to British spooks ... by drinking urine
Activists told NOT to snap pics of staff at the concrete doughnut
What do you mean, I have to POST a PHYSICAL CHEQUE to get my gun licence?
Stop bitching about firearms fees - we need computerisation
Ex US cybersecurity czar guilty in child sex abuse website case
Health and Human Services IT security chief headed online to share vile images
We need less U.S. in our WWW – Euro digital chief Steelie Neelie
EC moves to shift status quo at Internet Governance Forum
Oz biz regulator discovers shared servers in EPIC FACEPALM
'Not aware' that one IP can hold more than one Website
prev story

Whitepapers

Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
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.
Advanced data protection for your virtualized environments
Find a natural fit for optimizing protection for the often resource-constrained data protection process found in virtual environments.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.