'A considerable step forward':EDPS Opinion on the proposal for a framework decision for data protection in the third pillar

Source: Data Protection Officer (EDPS) i, published on Monday, December 19 2005, 1:52.


Monday 19 December 2005

'A considerable step forward':
EDPS Opinion on the proposal for a framework decision for data protection in the third pillar

Presenting his Opinion today, the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) welcomes the proposal on data protection in the field of police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters. The proposed third pillar instrument deals with a field currently governed by non-harmonised national legislation. The timely proposal will be as important as the data protection directive 95/46 and the Council of Europe Convention 108. With the firm commitment to improve consistency in the field of data protection, the EDPS puts forth a number of observations and proposals aimed at helping the Council to improve the framework decision. It is essential that the decision provides an additional set of rules addressing the specific nature of law enforcement.

Peter Hustinx, EDPS, says: "The framework decision will be one of the three central pieces of European legislation in the field of data protection. Common standards that are applicable to all processing are very much needed and I generally support the proposal which can constitute a considerable step forward. Good law enforcement and good data protection reinforce each other - so it is in the interest of everyone that the proposal is even further improved before it is adopted".

The agreement last week on the data retention directive highlighted the need for European data protection legislation in the third pillar. The principle of availability - that information available for law enforcement authorities in one member state should also be available to equivalent authorities in other member states - will, if adopted, lead to an enormous increase in the amount of personal data circulated and thus further add to the need for the framework decision.

In the present Opinion, the EDPS proposes a number of improvements in the proposal, the five most substantial of which are:

  • It is essential that the main data protection rules cover all police and judicial data - not only data exchanged between member states, but also data used within one country.
  • It is imperative that data on different categories of persons - suspects, convicted persons, victims, witnesses, contacts - are processed with different, appropriate conditions and safeguards.
  • The principles of necessity and proportionality of the proposal need to fully reflect the case law of the European Court on Human Rights.
  • The quality of data received from a third country must be carefully assessed in the light of human rights and data protection standards before they are used.
  • Specific provisions on automated individual decisions - similar to those in the data protection directive - need to be introduced.

The Opinion is available on our website: http://www.edps.eu.int/legislation/Opinions_A/05-12-19_Opinion_DP_Third_pillar_EN.pdf
For more information, please contact the EDPS Press Service at: +32 2 283 19 00
EDPS - the European guardian of personal data protection