EU lists data-sharing policies for first time

The EU and its 27 member states have almost 20 programmes, agencies and agreements governing the exchange of personal, business and telecoms data of EU citizens, a first-ever audit (COM (2010)385 final) has shown.

EU home affairs commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom, who on Tuesday  published the stocktaking list to make good on a transparency promise to MEPs, said that overview will help when developing further information  exchange policies.

She said she was committed to certain principles of proportionality and relevance.

“Citizens should have the right to know what personal data are kept and exchanged about them. One of my first actions as Commissioner for Home Affairs was, therefore, to order this overview, as called for by the European Parliament. I am happy to be able to present the overview today, together with a series of core principles for how our policy should develop in this area. This will help us keep the bigger picture in mind as we come to review the existing tools and adapt to change over time.”

The principles cover issues such as fundamental rights, proportionality and accurate risk management as well as clear allocation of responsibilities, cost effectiveness and reviewing clauses. Safeguarding people’s fundamental rights as enshrined in the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, particularly their right to privacy and personal data protection, will be a primary concern for the Commission when developing new proposals that involve processing of personal data. In all future policy proposals, the Commission will assess the initiative’s expected impact on individuals’ rights and analyse whether it is necessary and proportionate. Compliance with the rules on personal data protection will in all cases be subject to control by an independent authority at national or EU level.

Ms Malmstrom also reviewed the EU’s counterterrorism strategy, where policies, she admitted, were often made on an “ad hoc” basis.

“The European Union has developed actions based on events, after an  attack or an attempted attack causes a huge media tension, a great fear  from the population and a pressure on the political leaders to act. But  some of these measures are maybe not as effective as they seem in the first place.”

She pledged a more “comprehensive and long-term” approach in the future. The stocktaking exercise lists the existing measures to prevent,
protect, pursue and respond to terrorist threats, underlining efforts to
fight terrorist propaganda and recruitment, measures to avoid attacks
with explosives, and prevention of chemical, biological and nuclear
threats. The communication also identifies future challenges in areas
such as radicalisation, crisis management and response.

Tuesday’s information will feed into a broader EU internal security document due to be published in autumn, with the commission noting that while terrorist attacks are on the decrease, terrorists’ methods are  constantly evolving.


One Response

  1. Statewatch: This present
    a summary of the existing EU databases and includes the 2009 Schengen Information
    System (SIS) figures. It incorrectly states that the scope of the Prum Decision
    database is limited to terrorism – it covers any crime. The Memo is silent
    on access to EU databases by national internal security agencies. It notes
    that six EU states have yet to implement the Directive on mandatory retention
    of communications data (phone-calls, e-mails, faxes, mobile phones and internet
    usage. The Memo also notes the exchange of criminal intelligence uncritically
    – failing to consider the introduction of standards for “intelligence” to
    be exchanged which may be uncorroborated, hear-say or suspicion. Overall
    the Memo does not deal with proportionality nor in a number of instances
    the gathering of personal data for one reason being used for another.

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