Feeds

EU privacy watchdog warns on transport monitoring

Privacy chief says plan (Hu)stinx

Mobile application security vulnerability report

New systems planned by the European Commission to ease traffic problems across Europe do not adequately protect the privacy of travellers, according to the regulator set up to monitor the privacy implications of Commission actions.

The European Commission plans to create a framework within which it will be easier for governments and transport operators to set up EU-wide tracking and monitoring systems for transport.

European Data Protection Supervisor Peter Hustinx, who is responsible for regulating EU bodies' privacy practices, said that he had concerns about the proposals.

Though the systems are aimed at making transport more environmentally friendly and less time consuming, Hustinx said that they could be used to monitor individuals' movements across the continent.

"The deployment of ITS will support the development of applications for 'tracking and tracing' of goods and will allow for the deployment of location-based commercial and public services," said a formal opinion produced by Hustinx. "The use of location technologies is particularly intrusive from a privacy viewpoint as it allows for the tracking of drivers and for the collection of a wide variety of data relating to their driving habits."

"The processing of location data is a particularly sensitive matter involving the key issue of the freedom to move anonymously, and which requires the implementation of specific safeguards in order to prevent surveillance of individuals and misuse of the data," his opinion said.

The Commission has proposed a 'deployment plan' for intelligent transport systems (ITS) which aims to standardise data processing throughout Europe so that ITS can work across borders.

Hustinx, though, said that the plans do not take great enough account of individuals' need for privacy.

"The proposed legal framework is too broad and general to adequately address the privacy and data protection concerns raised by ITS deployment in the Member States," said the opinion. "It is not clear when the performance of ITS services will lead to the collection and processing of personal data, what are the specific purposes for which a data processing occurs, nor what is the legal basis that justifies such processing."

"Furthermore, the use of location technologies for ITS deployment raises the risk of developing services that are intrusive from a privacy viewpoint if they entail the collection and exchange of personal data," it said.

Hustinx's opinion also pointed out that the plans are not clear enough to create a consistent level of data protection across the EU in the transport systems.

"There is a risk that the lack of clarity of the proposed legal framework will create diversity in the implementation of ITS in Europe which will lead to different levels of data protection in Europe. The EDPS emphasizes the need for further harmonisation on these issues at EU level to clarify outstanding issues," it said.

"It is particularly crucial to identify who the data controllers will be in respect of the data processing performed, as they will bear the responsibility to ensure that privacy and data protection considerations are implemented at all levels of the chain of processing," said the opinion.

The Commission said that ITS would join up information from the road, water and air transport networks and that this would reduce congestion and the damaging effects transport has on the environment.

The commission's ITS plans can be accessed here (pdf), and Hustinx's formal opinion on the plans can be read here (pdf).

Copyright © 2009, OUT-LAW.com

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

Mobile application security vulnerability report

More from The Register

next story
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
US Social Security 'wasted $300 million on an IT BOONDOGGLE'
Scrutiny committee bods probe derailed database project
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
Arrr: Freetard-bothering Digital Economy Act tied up, thrown in the hold
Ministry of Fun confirms: Yes, we're busy doing nothing
Australia floats website blocks and ISP liability to stop copyright thieves
Big Content could get the right to order ISPs to stop traffic
Help yourself to anyone's photos FOR FREE, suggests UK.gov
Copyright law reforms will keep m'learned friends busy
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
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.
Application security programs and practises
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.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.