Saturday

17th Apr 2021

Police should not be exempt from privacy rules, says EU data chief

  • Plans to exempt police forces from data rules have been criticised by the EU's privacy chief (Photo: The Planet)

EU data protection chief Peter Hustinx has warned governments not to water down new rules on data protection by excluding police and law authorities from the scope saying that such steps would be "inappropriate."

The EU Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) was speaking Wednesday (20 June) at a press conference following the presentation of the European Data Protection Supervisor's annual report to MEPs on the European Parliament's civil liberties committee. In his opening statement, Hustinx said that his office was keen to deliver "protection that works and protection in practice".

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

While praising the attempts to re-write the EU's data protection rules, tabled in January by EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding, as "an enormous step forward", Hustinx maintained that the references to law enforcement agencies should remain in the text describing it as "one of the few positive things in a rather weak directive."

Meanwhile, the EDPS report describes including police and justice authorities in the legislation as "a conditio sine qua non (without which there is nothing) for effective data protection".

Although MEPs are anxious to ensure that the new data protection rules cover government agencies as well as businesses, it is understood that a number of member states are keen to remove law enforcement authorities from the scope of the directive, regarding this as an exclusively national competence.

Last week the UK became the latest member state to write domestic legislation aimed at increasing the access of law enforcement authorities to intercept personal data from emails and text messages, launching a new Communications Bill in the House of Commons.

The EDPS insists that MEPs and ministers should build on the Commission proposal by increasing the legal responsibility of organisations to protect personal data. It wants the data protection directive, which only sets out minimum harmonisation standards, to be scrapped and replaced with a binding regulation.

The new rules also include the concept of "a right to be forgotten" giving individuals the right to demand the deletion of their data by companies. The EDPS wants this provision to be kept and safeguarded in the package.

Jan Albrecht, the German Green MEP charged with drafting Parliament's position on the regulation, is expected to circulate a working paper to MEPs in the civil liberties committee before the parliamentary recess starts in mid-July. The move is part of a long timetable which is expected to lead to an agreement between MEPs and ministers in summer 2013.

EU data protection rules 'on schedule' despite delay

Despite not having begun formal deliberations in committee, the European Parliament is on course to define its position on the EU's new data protection regime by mid-2013, according to data privacy expert Sophie In't Veld.

Frontex chief: 'about time' MEPs probe his agency

Some 14 MEPs have created a group to probe allegations of rights abuse by the EU's border agency Frontex. Its head, Fabrice Leggeri, welcomed its creation and said it "is about time".

News in Brief

  1. EU postpones decision on labelling gas 'sustainable'
  2. MEPs call for mass surveillance ban in EU public spaces
  3. Greek and Turkish ministers trade jibes in Ankara
  4. Biden repeats opposition to Russia-Germany pipeline
  5. Navalny in danger, letter warns EU foreign ministers
  6. Lithuania keen to use Denmark's AstraZeneca vaccines
  7. Gas plants largest source of power-sector emissions
  8. Study: Higher risk of blood clots from Covid than vaccines

Feature

Covid-hit homeless find Xmas relief at Brussels food centre

The Kamiano food distribution centre in Brussels is expecting 20 people every half hour on Christmas Day. For many, Kamiano is also more than that - a support system for those made homeless or impoverished.

Top court finds Hungary and Poland broke EU rules

EU tribunal said Hungary's legislation made it "virtually impossible" to make an asylum application. Restricting access to international protection procedure is a violation of EU rules.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersDigitalisation can help us pick up the green pace
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersCOVID19 is a wake-up call in the fight against antibiotic resistance
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region can and should play a leading role in Europe’s digital development
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council to host EU webinars on energy, digitalisation and antibiotic resistance
  5. UNESDAEU Code of Conduct can showcase PPPs delivering healthier more sustainable society
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen benefit in the digitalised labour market

Latest News

  1. US rejects Slovenia-linked plan to break up Bosnia
  2. Ukraine urges Borrell to visit Russia front line
  3. Could US sanctions hit Russia vaccine sales to EU?
  4. Polish court pushes out critical ombudsman
  5. Political crises in Romania and Bulgaria amid third wave
  6. Von der Leyen's summer plans undisclosed, after Ukraine snub
  7. Over a million EU citizens back farm-animal cage ban
  8. Three options for West on Putin's Ukraine build-up

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us