EDPS pleased with 2011 record
By Nathalie Vandystadt | Thursday 21 June 2012
In an annual report, released on 21 June, the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS), Peter Hustinx, welcomes the “significant efforts” made by his office in 2011 “to push the effective protection of personal data”.
In his position, created seven years ago, Hustinx checks – in total independence – whether EU institutions respect citizens’ right to privacy and whether EU law or international agreements signed by the EU do not run counter to this fundamental right. His activities therefore range from supervision of EU institutions to the drafting of opinions and cooperation with national data protection authorities.
In March, the EPDS criticised the “lack of coherence” of the proposal for recast of the 1995 directive on the protection of personal data, presented by the European Commission to the Council of Ministers and MEPs. While the texts introduce “ambitious advances” – including the right to data erasure on the internet, data portability, easier redress and transparency on data collection and processing - they include too many derogations and exceptions, especially when it comes to the transfer of data to third countries.
The EDPS also criticised, in unison with some MEPs, the overly generous transfer of data on European air passengers travelling to the United States in the context of the fight against terrorism, in the PNR agreement approved in the end by the EP.
LACK OF COOPERATION
In 2011, the EDPS issued 24 legislative opinions on initiatives relating to home affairs, justice, technological developments and international data transfers. The office carried out only four on-the-spot inspections at the institutions, however. Without mentioning any names, the report regrets the lack of cooperation by the institutions.
“In its support of technological advances and economic development, particularly in an age of austerity, it is important that the EU administration does not lose sight of the right of the European citizens to privacy and data protection. Only a joint effort to apply a consistent and effective approach will maintain this fundamental right,” argues Hustinx, former head of the Dutch data protection authority.
For 2012, Hustinx is trying to invest more time and resources in providing guidance to EU institutions, including through visits and inspections. His office is giving priority to work on the future directive on data protection, but also to plans for a pan-European framework for electronic identification, authentication and signature, the issue of internet monitoring (especially related to respect for copyright), dematerialised IT (cloud computing) and electronic medical services.