EU privacy watchdog warns on transport monitoring
Privacy chief says plan (Hu)stinx
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.
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I'm not really sure I understand why there may be a problem...
If you have nothing to hide you have nothing to fear. Anybody who uses an ATM or electronic point of use payment system across europe or who travels through a toll booth, for example, is already tracked. What difference will ITS monitoring make??
That it is fraudulently being sold as a way of helping traffic management is surely of greater concern. It demonstrates that either the clowns putting it in don't know what they're doing or do know what they're doing but don't understand how it can be 'abused' or, worse still, do know what they're doing, know the public is (generally) ignorant and want to put it in as they can see the information derived can be readily fitted in to a "better" control and monitoring system.
Oppose ID cards & NIDB, travel by public transport, pay in cash and keep your passport in a foil wallet if you want to retain your annonymity as much as possible. Be prepared for the 4am tap on the door and the official asking if you're dead or not as they haven't seen you about lately...
I always wonder
Let's say they introduce this, logging of movement to the degree that governments seem to want.
and let us do a tought experiment.
A wife runs from her abusive and violent husband, who just happens to have some friends inside the policeforce, or whatever.
The poor woman takes the family car, and is looking for a place to hide, runs to a shelter, girlfriend, or hotel, from the wrath of her husband.
The husband calls in a favour from his police fiends, and find out where the woman is hiding..
The rest can be read in the newspapers the next day, "violent husband kills his wife".
And yet I guarantee, that there will be no mention of the fact that the total surveillance of people's movments facilitated this.
Let's do another one.. A rapist has somehow managed to infiltrate the survilance system, may even appear as a very aggreeable police officer, or official.
He is now able to monitor women moving around, and finding out who has a tendency to walk alone, and what patterns they follow, and when they are in locations where the monitoring system has a few holes.
So one evening the woman takes her regular walk through the streets - the rest can be read in the papers the next day!.
Of course these scenaries does not require the total surveillance systems that are being introduced, but these total surveillance systems changes the opportunities for criminals, as rather than having to stake out someone, and follow them for sometime to find out their patterns, they can access a central database, and obtain all the information about individual movments through time, and find out if there are any patterns, and where a person is most vunerable.
It is ofc political incorrect to mention that this can be done, and most people seem to think that police, and trusted officials are some kind of angels, that are not criminals, and criminals could never obtain access to this movment data... But fact is, trusted persons are just that humans, and have as many flaws as the rest of us, in fact it is possible that they are highly criminal, but they just haven't been caught yet.
Politicians will call the scenaries as "conspriators", or "paraonia" etc, to try to remove focus from the fact that these very scenaries are very possible, and as technologi implements face tracking, resource tracking and so forth, the information will be more complete, and will in increasing degrees facilitate criminality.
Robbing houses, because you Know they're empty, robbing people in their houses, because you know there's only one elderly person at home, and so forth... Thus the risks of being caught can be significantly reduced by the surviellance. Of course there are possilibities of catching some criminals using the surveillance system, it is more likely that people working together can use the system to obscure their activities, and make it safer for criminals to be active.
Perhaps I am paranoid, however, it seems to me that these systems are as dangerous to indviduals as they are to criminals.
I do congest more than others???
Wait, so why is there any private data being recorded at all there? Does John congest the road more than Jim or Jane?
Surely it's the number of cars that is important for congestion, not WHICH cars.
I really wish this current EU Commission would just stop. José Manuel Barroso panders to the extremists of Europe, as a result the basics are being lost. So many times he's driven through some ridiculous anti/freedom agenda of Blair's, or that bitter nutter in Germany in the wheelchair who hates the world and behaves like a character from Dr Strangelove.
I hope they don't re-elect him, his watch has be pitiful, what's needed now is a President who will drive more rights for individual citizens. No more Bush/Blair surveillance agenda, no more Bush/Blair barriers between countries or anti citizen attacks on liberty.