EU Data Protection Supervisor seeks a roadmap for transatlantic data protection
In a current opinion, Peter Hustinx, the European Union's Data Protection Supervisor, is seeking a roadmap towards a possible agreement on transatlantic data protection. His opinion is a reaction to the concluding report, issued last summer, of the US-EU High Level Contact Group (HLCG) on information sharing and privacy and personal data protection.
Hustinx is asking among other things for a thorough discussion of the scope of a possible transatlantic agreement on data transfer and data protection, and for the drawing up of data protection principles. At the same time, on the way to such an agreement, he wants more interest groups to be involved in the discussion, as well as more transparency for further debates, for the HLCG has hitherto been working behind closed doors. He is also calling for the greater involvement of the European Parliament.
Hustinx is quoted in a press release from his office as welcoming a dialogue on "transatlantic law enforcement", as it could give “a clearer framework to the exchanges of data that are or will be taking place”, but "it is also sensitive as it could legitimise massive data transfers in a field - law enforcement - where the impact on individuals is particularly serious, and where strict and reliable safeguards are all the more needed." Apart from the scope of the agreement, Hustinx said the choice of legal instrument was particularly worthy of discussion.
He viewed with special concern the increasing demands for international transfers of data from private companies, for example data about aircraft passengers, or SWIFT bank transactions. His opinion points out that "private actors are becoming a systematic source of information in a law enforcement perspective, be it at the level of the EU or at international level", and that "if data of private companies (like financial institutions) can be transferred to third countries in principle, this could provoke a strong pressure to make the same type of data equally available within the EU to law enforcement authorities." The EDPS has "serious concerns" about this trend. (Monika Ermert) /