Your Right


to be Forgotten



in the European Union

Airbrushing goes

with
Joseph Stalin


This is a man....




In 2010 this man complained that an auction notice of his repossessed home on Google’s search results infringed his privacy rights because the proceedings concerning him had been fully resolved for a number of years and hence the reference to these was entirely irrelevant.  Like banks actually google people to figure out it they're a good credit risk or not... subprime mortgage crisis suggest not...


So he could borrow loads of money off stupid banks again that he might not be able to pay back he requested, first, that the newspaper be required either to remove or alter the pages in question so that the personal data relating to him no longer appeared; and second, that Google Spain or Google Inc. be required to remove the personal data  relating to him, so that it no longer appeared in the search results.

The Spanish court referred the case to the Court of Justice of the European Union asking:

(a) whether the EU’s 1995 Data Protection Directive applied to search engines such as Google;

(b) whether EU law (the Directive) applied to Google Spain, given that the company’s data processing server was in the United States;

(c) whether an individual has the right to request that his or her personal data be removed from accessibility via a search engine (the ‘right to be forgotten’).


The actual Directive its self is very wordy the exact text is here.

Of course you can still find all about him on Google because the case got wall to wall international publicity but ... While there is much written (particularly in the Times) that no one reads about the right to be forgotten... but the question no one asks is ...where did it come from? Try and find this out and you hit several problems.  The first is the European Union website.  If you want to know what happened in the Westminster Parliament 5,10,20 or even 100 years ago you can visit Hansard on the Parliament website...  The EU website while containing the same information is somewhat more difficult to navigate for reasons of Comitology...



But ... after a strange discussion with European Parliament’s Citizens' enquiry service I eventually uncovered the verbatim report of the debate on 14 June 1995 on the Data Protection Directive 95/46/EC.  So here is what we could find out about how this strange and seemingly stupid piece of legislation got on the statute books in all its perverse? glory...

13. Personal data

President. — The next item is the recommendation for a second reading (A4-0120/95) by Mr Medina Ortega, on behalf of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Citizens' Rights, on the common position established by the Council concerning the proposed European Parliament and Council Directive on the protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data (C4-0051/95 — 00/0287(COD)).




Manuel Medina Ortega (born 1935 in Lanzarote) is the hero of our story.  He is a Spanish politician and Member of the European Parliament for the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party, part of the Party of European Socialists. Medina also served in the Spanish Congress of Deputies representing Las Palmas from 1982 to 1987 when he resigned upon election to the European Parliament.  The right to be forgotten is his bright idea.

Medina Ortega (PSE), rapporteur. — (ES) Mr President, the proposal for a European Parliament and Council directive on the protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data and on the free movement of such data is currently in its second reading. The directive was quite adequately considered during its first reading, when the rapporteur was the British MEP, Mr Hoon, who is no longer a Member of this House.



Chief
architect of the right to be forgotten is Geoffrey Hoon Member of the European Parliament for Derbyshire from 1984 to 1994.  By this point in time (1995) he has left the EU Parliament to become Member of Parliament for Ashfield and then Secretary of State in charge of figuring out how to invade Iraq for George Bush and Tony Blair.

Parliament approved a large number of amendments. These were for the most part accepted by the Commission and the Council, so that with the Council now returning the text to us in the form of a common position, the scope of action which it leaves this Parliament is really very limited, since once it agreed that we were right on most of the issues, there would be no question of going over these issues again.  Therefore, in the examination in committee the amendments which have been formulated are basically a number of amendments from the Committee on Legal Affairs and Citizens' Rights itself which attempt to define a timescale and, above all, a number of amendments concerning comitology.



Before we go any further it is necessary for the reader to understand comitology ...which no one does.  This is partly because comitology no longer exists... or does it?  In the Westminster Parliament it is up to the Government (formed by the largest party (or parties) in the house) to come up with legislation.  This then makes its way through the legislature...




Generally legislation starts in the House of Commons (although it can start in the Lords) and then goes to "the other place"
then back again and sometimes back again before becoming law.  Along the way the drafting of the bills may be reviewed by Select Committees who hammer out all the technical issues with wording and exact phrasing...



If you visit the Westminster Parliament website you can see the passage of bills through parliament via simple diagrams like the one above... because the actual process is quite simple...

To a committee
However, in order to present the illusion that the EU both is and is not a continental government the European Parliament and the Commission which drafts laws are kept as very different bodies.  The European Parliament does not form its own Government.  Laws are mainly constructed by the Commission.  The political structure of the EU is quite complex so here's a diagram... from wikipedia:

Click to see in
                                                    more detail

The European Parliament and the Council of the European Union (consisting of Ministers from National Governments) can confer similar powers as a Select Committee might have in the Westminster System on the Commission.  The EU has a bicameral legislature which means the elected EU Parliament must act together with the
Council of the European Union in order to do this.  Once this power has been granted the European Parliament has no right to block implementing measures.  After years of complaints the Parliament and the Council were put on an equal footing in June 2006.  Or as wikipedia would put it "As sites of European governance which produce a vast amount of binding legislation, comitology's opaque mode of operation, unclear membership, and closed debate style has been the subject of criticism from both academics and practitioners".



If you've read all that and understood it as I haven't you'll be further unenlightened to read this article by Daniel Guéguen in which he tells us that Comitology no longer really exists but when it did it was a good thing and now it doesn't exist at all things are even worse: 
"If the Lisbon Treaty’s mission was to simplify, then it has failed. The EU decision-making process – generally transparent, balanced and uniform before Lisbon – has become more complex, more opaque, more ad hoc and more legal....
To put it simply, the new system consists of two pillars: delegated acts, which amend or supplement nonessential elements of basic legislative acts (you could call these ‘strategic measures’), and implementing acts, which are more technical and individual measures. ‘Comitology’ no longer exists since, as explained below, delegated acts are adopted without any involvement of committees of national experts. So we have to replace the term ‘comitology’ with ‘secondary legislation’. The wonders of simplification!"

It is the confusing number of committees that gave rise to the term “comitology”. 
There are four categories of committee: Advisory, Management, Regulatory and, under the new procedure agreed in 2006, Regulatory with Scrutiny.

In the amendments concerning comitology, the Committee on Legal Affairs and Citizens' Rights based itself on the modus vivendi (agreement between those whose opinions differ) of 20 December 1994. I believe that the proposals of this Parliament — of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Citizens' Rights — are fairly acceptable proposals. I think they presuppose a principle of understanding. I shall not bore the Members of Parliament with the detailed description of the amendments: the most important amendment is No 7, the one referring to comitology. From the point of view of the directive's content, the issue is one of protecting basic rights and freedoms and, more specifically, the right to personal privacy.

1994 is a long time ago but some of you may remember that about this time (1993) John Major was having a lot of problems getting the Maastricht Treaty through Parliament.  The
Maastricht Treaty effectively created the European Union as we know it today.  Before that it was called the European Ecconomic Community.  Feeling the European Ecconomic Community needed more ecconomic stability and identity the treaty established the three pillars of the European Union—the European Community (EC) pillar, the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) pillar, and the Justice and Home Affairs (JHA) pillar.... to encourage much more political integration.

 



The original idea was for more foreign policy, military, criminal justice, and judicial cooperation but as no one seemed to actually want a European Government with a centralised military and criminal justice system a fudge was reached that limited the powers of the European Commission, the European Parliament and the European Court of Justice to influence the new intergovernmental policy areas ...but as with all EU fudges no one's really sure 3 more treaties later what that actually means today.  If you do understand please dont write in. 



To give an example of this fudge the
European Court of Justice has been in existence since 1952.  It is composed of one judge per member state and 3-13 judges hear one case at a time.  President of the Court of Justice Vassilios Skouris was elected by the judges to be in charge of them all for this current three year period.  The ECJ is the highest court of the European Union in matters of Union law, but not national law so it is not possible to appeal the decisions of national courts to the ECJ... but rather national courts refer questions of EU law to the ECJ

So if the UK Courts were to chose not to refer your right of privacy case to the ECJ then it cant rule on this case even if you can win it. 

Meaning in theory Westminster can prevent you having your "right to privacy" except of course then the judiciary would complain about parliament getting too involved in the courts too directly ... confused?  Me too.

After the ruling by the ECJ it is ultimately for the national court to apply the resulting interpretation to the facts of any given case.  In other words the treaties give the power of veto to the judiciary rather to parliament.  Exactly in what circumstances this power can be exercised we dunno.  The ECJ is not to be confused with the European Court of Human Rights (the ECHR) where applications can be lodged by an individual.


Eleven years have now passed since the year in which Orwell set his book '1984', in which he described a world in which individuals were watched over by Big Brother and each of our movements was monitored. Orwell was ahead of his time but did not get his dates wrong. At the moment, the lives of each and every one of us are indeed subject to a series of controls through information: banks know what our financial situation is, the public authorities have personal data on us and hospitals know what ailments we suffer from at any given time.

It's always amazing how much politicians can read without understanding but this is a particularly fine example. Medina Ortega seems to believe that Orwell's dystopian novel is about the retention of information its self and the use of that information to control the individual whereas actually it is the destruction and manipulation of collated information - not the collation of information its self - which Orwell perceives as a potential evil.  Indeed the central character Winston Smith's job is the destruction of information. 
Winston worked in the Records Department which is a subsection of the Ministry of Truth and his function was ...yes, you've guessed it ... deleting data.  Precisely the function of the 1995 Data Protection Directive. 

In his role at the Ministry of Truth part of Winston's job is to rewrite past newspaper articles so that the historical record always supports the current party line.  Winston's job mainly is to rewrite history.  It is somewhat surreal then that anyone could read 1984 and come away from it with the misguided notion that the central theme of the novel is that it is good to delete information.  Still ignorance is strength.  Indeed calling it a Data Protection Directive is its self a remarkable piece of Newspeak.  It is, of course, a Data Destruction Directive.  Of course the Party spies on Winston all the time but that is to check he is not producing any original thoughts of his own which may contradict those of the party-line-of-the-moment.  They are not collating information to use against him - they are merely watching for any signs at all of independent thought in him... The party insists it has an answer to everything while constantly changing its mind causing the endless retroactive continuity problems that keep Winston fully employed.  Orwell describes the Records Department thus:

"There were the huge printing-shops with their sub-editors, their typography experts, and their elaborately equipped studios for the faking of photographs. There was the tele-programmes section with its engineers, its producers, and its teams of actors specially chosen for their skill in imitating voices. There were the armies of reference clerks whose job was simply to draw up lists of books and periodicals which were due for recall. There were the vast repositories where the corrected documents were stored, and the hidden furnaces where the original copies were destroyed. And somewhere or other, quite anonymous, there were the directing brains who co-ordinated the whole effort and laid down the lines of policy which made it necessary that this fragment of the past should be preserved, that one falsified, and the other rubbed out of existence.  And the Records Department, after all, was itself only a single branch of the Ministry of Truth, whose primary job was not to reconstruct the past but to supply the citizens of Oceania with newspapers, films, textbooks, telescreen programmes, plays, novels--with every conceivable kind of information, instruction, or entertainment, from a statue to a slogan, from a lyric poem to a biological treatise, and from a child's spelling-book to a Newspeak dictionary."


It seems as though
Medina Ortega or someone has managed to conflate the continual monitoring of Winston Smith's private life and his lack of privacy with the idea that the book is proposing that the solution to invasion of privacy is the destruction of information generally whether it has been obtained honestly or dishonestly, with or against the will of the individual to whom it relates or if collusion or coercion was used to obtain it.  Obviously burning books and destroying paintings is emotive so the Directive tries to draw a line between Structured Information and Data (that is unconnected pieces of information relating to an individual and erm... something more complicated?)

Furthermore, when the common market was harmonized to create the single market, it was important for us to be able to use this information because, although its existence displeases us, as a result of the development of telecommunications and the very creation of the internal market, it is nonetheless important that the Community rules allow the transfer of data and that this transfer is subjected to legal controls.

Of course another problem with
Medina Ortega's vision of the tyranny of information is that it seems to have been conjectured in another era.  His objection seems to be with large faceless institutions storing data that is not available to all "banks know what our financial situation is, the public authorities have personal data on us and hospitals know what ailments we suffer from at any given time".  Clearly if banks do know our financial situation then sub prime mortgage crises shouldn't...

I believe that the directive achieves quite a good balance. That is to say that on the one hand nothing prevents the possibility of this data being transferred but, on the other hand, the directive intends to prevent this data from being used in an unsuitable manner, and, above all, aims to guarantee basic rights and freedoms.

It's at this point Mr Ortega gets really scary.  Informing us that freedom of speech is not the supreme right ... not because of the dangers of hate speech but simply because it will always be trumped by "privacy" unless there is a "public interest" at stake.  Or put another way we can only write about other people when the politicians decided that what we have to say about them is "important"?

In one case, one sector of the media has approached me claiming that one of the amendments establishes restrictions as regards the publicity of data, and has called my attention in particular to Amendment No 5 which, from its wording, seems to imply that the degree to which the media may use data is restricted. However, in this field, too, we have to set limits. It is true that all Constitutions stipulate the right to freedom of expression, but freedom of expression is not the supreme right; in a situation where the citizen's right to privacy comes into conflict with the right to free expression, it is the right to privacy which prevails over the right to communication, except in special circumstances, for example when people in the public eye are involved. It is probable that a member of parliament would not be able to claim the right to privacy in many cases, but I do not see why a normal citizen has to be exposed to the control of the media.


So basically as I understand it ... I cant write jokes about you in a way that identifies you if you're not "in the public eye".  



Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights touted by the UN reads ....

Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

But Article 12 conversely? reads ...

No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.

So it seems that we have the
right to freedom of opinion and expression and the dissemination of any factual information so long as it isn't negative and about someone else.... which rather rules out quite a lot of satire as we are allowed to have opinions but not to attack anyone's honour and reputation ...which sounds a lot like poking fun at anyone?  Perhaps the writers of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights meant arbitrary attacks upon honour and reputation ...but that isn't what they've actually written. Perhaps this is as a result of the declaration having to be translated into so many languages during its drafting but the problem in English grammar is the use of the comma between correspondence and nor .......................makes it all a bit vague. 
correspondence, nor
Is it being used to separate a dependent clause from the independent clause?  Or are both clauses supposed to be dependent and thus the article reads in effect

"No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to arbitrary attacks upon his honour and reputation."? 

Or does it mean

"No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence.  No one shall be subjected to attacks upon his honour and reputation."? 

Surely this could have all been made clearer with better use of punctuation?




Of course the deeper question is what is a "right"? 
I suppose one problem is that the word "right" suggests something that is absolute.  For example article 4 of the US Constitution...

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

...makes clear what cannot be done with regards to Freedom of Speech.  To give another example Willliam and Mary's Bill of Rights put a prohibition on all Ecclesiastical Courts...

That the Commission for erecting the late Court of Commissioners for Ecclesiasticall Causes and all other Commissions and Courts of like nature are Illegall and Pernicious.

... which is interesting when you consider Sharia Courts.  But that's another story.  The point is what none of these example rights have is subclauses, conjunctions or BUTs... they are actually statements of what
THE STATE CANNOT DO. 


Conversely the European Union's 1995 Data Protection Directive seems to be about the state doing more ... regulating?  Instead of focusing on the State's relationship with the Citizen it concentrates on every Citizen's relationship with every other Citizen.  Honestly I really am trying not to turn into a "libertarian" here but...

But if the right to freedom of expression and the right to privacy come into conflict and have limits ...they're not really much in the way of rights are they?  More sort of leeways...? 

The idea of a right as an abstract thing that one has an entitlement to no matter what one's motivation has long been a thorn in the flesh for politicians.   Rights were very big in the 1960s and 70s after WWII and the sexual revolution but they've been slowly going out of fashion since politicians slowly realised that actually they dont want people doing just what they like but more what they feel is the best thing for society as a whole... 

Thus we have politicians like Tony Blair talking about rights and responsibilities being linked ... which is nonsense.  If rights mean anything then they are unlinked to anything else?  If I have a right to not be tortured so long as I am responsible enough not to break the law then that is not much of right is it?  If criminals have a right to remain silent how is that linked to any responsibility or obligation?  A world where Right A trumps Right B but if you have Right C and D as well that makes a Royal Flush or something all sounds a bit mental.  That's not a set of rights.  That's a card game.  But what is a "right"........?  Mr Jeremy
                                                      BenthamIs the right to be forgotten a natural right - coming from God or something?  A legal right - something that exists as a function of legislation rather than philosophy and can be repealed or withdrawn?  A claim right?  A positive right?  Or is it a human right?  Is it something that underpins the law or is it just the law?  In which case doesn't that make it a law?  If we make rights the basis of law then can the judiciary make their own laws based on constitutional right?  Is this why we dont have a constitution?  And on and on...  Of course Tony Blair isn't bright enough to have thought up the idea of interlinking "rights" and "responsibilities" on his own - it actually comes from the 1992 manifesto of the European People's Party (see below)
 

In another sector, for example that of scientific and medical research, it is claimed that information could be communicated or disseminated more widely. Here, too, it is a question of the person's right to privacy being respected. Only in those cases in which it is strictly necessary should this right to privacy give way to public interest; in the interest, for example, of health.  Therefore, Mr President, I believe that this Parliament can approve the common position with the amendments which we have proposed. And I hope that the Council and the Commission appreciate the adjustment made to the procedure followed by Parliament and the need to conclude this rapidly.



This person is titled only "Oddy (PSE)" in the transcript but I presume it is Christine Oddy

Ms Oddy was Labour Member of the European Parliament for the Midlands Central constituency from 1989 to 1999.  There was a big bust up that ended up down an Employment Tribunal to do with where the party put her on the EU electoral STV list.

Oddy (PSE). — Mr President, this is an important report which surrounds a very difficult area of law, namely to what extent data which is collected on individuals should be protected. I wish to thank my colleague, Medina Ortega, and my former colleague, Geoff Hoon, who is now in Westminster, for the hard work they have done on this difficult subject.  It is difficult to strike a balance between the right of individuals to have their information protected and the right of the public at large to have access to information. The Commission's document is now much better than the original. 



Does the right to privacy conflict with the right to be an Avon lady?

However, in the amendment I have tabled, there is a particular point relating to Britain. In Britain people who are not very well off, live on benefit or are low paid, cannot normally obtain goods on credit very easily. Very commonly a woman — it is normally a woman — will sell to friends and relatives from a catalogue. This is the only form of credit that many low paid people and people on public support can obtain in the United Kingdom. These women — they are normally women — are not really commercial agents: they just have a small clientele of friends and relatives. Therefore, they should be protected from the rigours of this directive. I therefore hope that this House will support my amendment.



Ana Palacio Vallelersundi from the Spanish Partido Popular party
who doesn't look as though personal grooming products are her thing replied...


Palacio Vallelersundi (PPE). — (ES) Mr President, Mr Commissioner, as the rapporteur rightly said, let us make sure that technological development does not lead us to the Orwellian nightmare scenario. Let us ward off the terrible prophecy expressed in '1984', and avoid the situation whereby — and I quote directly — 'wherever you may be, asleep or awake, at work or at rest, you may be subject to inspection without prior notice and without you knowing that you are being watched'. Ensuring that this is avoided is the aim and ultimate meaning of the draft directive on the protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data and the free movement of such data.

Ms Vallelersundi is obviously using the Spanish translation which may explain the change from third to second person.  The exact original quotation is "A Party member lives from birth to death under the eye of the Thought Police. Even when he is alone he can never be sure that he is alone. Wherever he may be, asleep or awake, working or resting, in his bath or in bed, he can be inspected without warning and without knowing that he is being inspected. Nothing that he does is indifferent. His friendships, his relaxations, his behaviour towards his wife and children, the expression of his face when he is alone, the words he mutters in sleep, even the characteristic movements of his body, are all jealously scrutinized. Not only any actual misdemeanour, but any eccentricity, however small, any change of habits, any nervous mannerism that could possibly be the symptom of an inner struggle, is certain to be detected. He has no freedom of choice in any direction whatever.".
  It is not monitoring or the collation of information to which Orwell objects but the lack of knowledge that one is being monitored and the lack of a feeling or reality of privacy.  It is not the collation or dissemination of information to which he objects but the absence of choice.  It is inspection at any time rather than just inspection that is the fear.  In 1984 people are not "vaporised" for committing any crime but for their potential towards individual rather than collective thought.

Moreover if we are basing legislation on dystopian fiction why do we restrict ourselves to just George Orwell?  What about Aldous Huxley?  Philip K Dick?  Ron L Hubbard (oh sorry that one's already ..)? Tanith Lee? Scott Westerfield?  Margaret Atwood?  Anthony Burgess?  John Christopher?  John Wyndham?  Douglas Adams? Robert Holmes? Chris Boucher?  Terry Nation?  George Lucas? The Worm that Turned? Gene Roddenberry?  Or perhaps we could go back the other way and start basing legislation on The Silmarillion?  All these idiots who've been dicking about for years in policy thinktanks must feel a right bunch of twonks.  If only they'd invested their time in novels and screenwriting much legislation in Euorpean Union would they have.  Funny but it does seem as if they've all only read one book which has been elevated to a sacred text?  What follows is so wordy and boring that even I have been struggling to understand it... in a funny way it reminds me of how in Oceana there are no actual laws...

The common position, whose recommendation for second reading we are dealing with, resolves the conflict of interests between the right to privacy on the one hand and technological development, with the various rights connected thereto, on the other, in a fairly satisfactory manner.  The Group of the European People's Party will be voting in favour of Mr Medina Ortega's report, and we must congratulate the rapporteur[person who is appointed by an organization to report on the proceedings of its meetings]'s excellent handling of an issue which is both complex and delicate. It is complex and delicate because this directive relates to an issue concerning which the rules and regulations vary widely and in respect of which one can highlight the total absence of regulations in two Member States and the disparity of the laws in those Member States in which they do exist. It is also complex and delicate because its field of application is an area at the very cutting edge of technological development as we near the end of the century: the development of multimedia technology and the advent of what we have come to term the information society, in which there are necessarily innumerable transfers of personal data within the Union.

Of course one obvious problem with the drafting of this legislation is that the Internet it has come to govern didn't really exist in 1995.  Restrictions which seem to have been intended to prevent banks from misusing personal data or newspapers from bullying people indiscriminately seem to have completely failed to predict the birth of social media platforms and national data protection legislation...

In 1994/5 the Internet as a commercial space was still just a glint in Professor Leonard Kleinrock's eye.  It kind of existed as the
ARPANET.  The first two nodes of what would become the ARPANET were interconnected between Leonard Kleinrock's Network Measurement Center at the UCLA's School of Engineering and Applied Science and Douglas Engelbart's NLS system at SRI International (SRI) in Menlo Park, California, on 29 October 1969.  In December 1974 Specification of Internet Transmission Control Program, by Vinton Cerf, Yogen Dalal, and Carl Sunshine, used the term internet as a shorthand for internetworking for the first time.   In 1982, the Internet Protocol Suite (TCP/IP) was standardized and the concept of a world-wide network of fully interconnected TCP/IP networks called the Internet was introduced.  TCP/IP network access expanded again in 1986 when the National Science Foundation Network (NSFNET) provided access to supercomputer sites in the United States from research and education organizations.  The Internet was fully commercialized in the U.S. by 1995 when NSFNET was decommissioned, removing the last restrictions on the use of the Internet to carry commercial traffic.  And then this happened...

To Twitter
                                                      and the Moving
                                                      Finger

We cannot forget the many companies, such as banks and insurance companies for example, which are active in various Member States. Nor can we overlook the need for there to be an exchange of information between administrations, which is inherent in the integration process itself, nor — to cite one last example — situations which derive from scientific development. So, faced with these hard facts, the directive aims to harmonize standards, to create a framework in which it will be possible to develop a common policy with respect to third countries and, finally, to establish the minimum levels as regards respect for the basic rights and privacy of people in the European Union.
  The common position establishes a level of protection concerning citizens' rights that one might describe as high. It is based directly on that which is laid down in Article F of the Union Treaty and, in particular, Convention 108 of the Council of Europe.

Assuming that Article F is Article 6 (letters having become numbers?) it is this:

Article 6 – Special categories of data

Personal data revealing racial origin, political opinions or religious or other beliefs, as well as personal data concerning health or sexual life, may not be processed automatically unless domestic law provides appropriate safeguards. The same shall apply to personal data relating to criminal convictions.


This protection is given concrete form in obligations incumbent upon those responsible for the data processing, civil and criminal sanctions provided for in cases of violation, and the powers of intervention accorded to the independent supervisory authorities responsible for ensuring that national laws are respected.



Furthermore, the harmonization achieved by the directive will undoubtedly contribute to the smooth operation of the internal market. In particular, it will allow the free movement of personal data within the Community, and will at the same time reduce the risks of unfair competition within the Union, and its corollary of relocations.



The EPP is a Centre Right European Political Party dating back to 1976
but not Right enough for David Cameron's Conservatives who regard it as
"too Federalist" and have instead hooked up with the
Alliance of European Conservatives and Reformists


As rapporteur for the Group of the European People's Party, I have described the common position as satisfactory. I would add the nuance that we give this term in Spain, which implicitly reveals the truth, as regards this matter, of the adage that: 'that which is better is the enemy of that which is good'. Thus, all the amendments, except for that referring to comitology, can, as the rapporteur has already said, be described as technical amendments and are intended to improve the quality of the directive. Despite this, there is no doubt that there are still ambiguities, concepts whose lawfulness is dubious, such as, to cite but one example, that of important public interests; there are those which are important, there are those which are less important and there are even those which are of little importance which, moreover, are not public interests. But in the end, no amendments have been tabled and this has been out of a scrupulous respect for the prerogatives of this Institution in the codecision procedure. From the procedural point of view, it should be pointed out that the common position incorporates the essential elements of the main amendments approved by this House in the first reading. In particular, we can say that it supports the principle of equal treatment for the public and private sectors. It retains from the parliamentary report the concept of data of a personal nature and the concept of processing which, as required by this House, also includes data collection. Likewise, the common position contains definitions of subcontractor and third party which were not included in the initial proposal. Finally, we can see our mark both in the determination of people's rights, and in the system for notifying the supervisory authority as well as in the powers of this supervisory authority.  To summarize, a calm passage in the final stretch of the codecision procedure can be satisfactorily forecast, and from this point on I earnestly hope that the inter-institutional cooperation which has characterized this procedure will become commonplace in the future.


If you cant bring yourself to wade through all that turgid waffle here's a quick and easy summary:  It's not perfect but it'll do.  It's important to treat the public and private sectors the same.  Aren't we all great.  Let's do this again sometime.




Elisabeth Rehn was leader of the Swedish People's Party from 1987 to 1990
after which she became Sweden's Defence Minister before becoming an MEP in 1995.  She left the EU Parliament in 1997. 
She ran for President of Sweden in 1994 and 2000 and lost.

MEP for
Elisabeth Rehn (ELDR). — (SV) Mr President, the common position on personal data protection which we are now debating covers many aspects that affect the basic freedoms and rights of citizens — questions which, by tradition, are of very great significance to us Liberals.  The rapid development of information technology has meant that decision-makers do not always have time to set up the safeguards necessary to protect the individual. I consider it a top-priority task to guarantee respect for the privacy of the individual in this area. We must not halt the development of the information society, but we must acquire sufficient knowledge to be able to act more quickly on the political level when new rules for data protection are needed. The intention of the directive is to achieve a necessary degree of coordination in the motley diversity of the Member States' data protection provisions.  It is very important to us that personal data should only be collected for specific and legitimate purposes, that the data subject should not remain identifiable for longer than absolutely necessary and that the data stored should be covered by total secrecy. It is also crucial that collection of data referring to race or ethnic origin, political and religious views, membership of trade unions and questions relating to health and sexuality be prohibited.



Dalton Trumbo (without his reluctant cabaret)
One of the "Hollywood 10" screenwriters blacklisted in the McCarthy era

Here at last we have something approaching a logical basis for the legislation.  The fear of blacklisting.  Of course in Dalton Trumbo's case it wasn't actually a secret that he was a bit hard left ... I also wonder of the value of information concerning an individal's race or ethnic origin.  I mean it's pretty obvious that me and Ava Alexis have different races and ethnic origins to anyone who's not blind.  Even if you could hide people's ethnic origins from the world's computers in a literal way it's possible to have a good go at deducing them from names and surnames.  Similarly while it may be possible to hide trade union membership or political beliefs ...surely the larger issue is that no one should have to?  Okay the construction industry is notorious for blacklisting trade union members ... but blacklisting people is already illgeal?  Why do we need to make it illegal twice over?  The logic of the Directive seems to be that making blacklisting illegal is not enough ... the actual possession of data its self should be illegal on the off chance that someone uses such information for blacklisting?  On the plus side perhaps we can use this right to tell all the annoying
psychometric testers in human resources departments to go ...


However it is important that certain exemptions be permitted when the public interest demands it. In work on the prevention of various diseases in particular, it is important that medical research, e.g. for the development of medicines, should not be hindered by the fact that data cannot be collected. This is perhaps of particular relevance to research on cancer.

A uniform system of data protection will place all parties on the free market in the Union on an equal footing. A basic condition for the recording of personal data is that the persons concerned be properly informed of the purposes for which the data are being collected and of the manner in which they will be used and that their consent be obtained before the data collection begins. People must also have the right to know what information is contained in the various registers and how it is to be used. All of us may indeed wonder how many registers contain information on us and how that information is used.

Furthermore I think that the right to have data deleted from a register is of central importance to data protection.

A balance between individual privacy and rules for press freedom must also be guaranteed.


But how?  I would ask Frederico Fellini but he's dead ...as is Marcello Mastroianni.

The Commission's responsibility, but also our responsibility here in the European Parliament, is to monitor the way in which the Member States implement the directive and to demand rapid corrective action if the rights of individuals to protection are violated. In a Union of 370 million inhabitants and fifteen Member States, there are perhaps good grounds for being especially active in monitoring this directive, for example by inspecting officials responsible for registers and prosecuting persons who break the rules. If the directive conforms to our common position, I think we have a good basis for data protection.


Hilariously if you put the next speaker Ángela del Carmen Sierra González? MEP into google.co.uk it is impossible to find a picture of him or her or much information but you do get...



... clearly we have no right to know what our MEPs look like or get up to?  I also love the idea of a comment saying "data has been removed ... learn more".  Because obviously we are going to learn less. 

Born on 10 January 1945, Tenerife
Ángela del Carmen Sierra González? has no publicity photo anywhere on the web.  Not even on the Euopean Parliament Website  ...she was something to do with the Nordic Green left and left in 1999...?

Sierra Gonzalez (GUE/NGL). — (ES) Mr President, ever increasing quantities of data relating to citizens are being processed by computer, and new areas of people's private lives are increasingly being subject to computer processing and handling. Maintaining privacy is therefore becoming increasingly difficult. Bearing in mind the trend of administrations to transfer many kinds of information to other public bodies, controlling the transfer of data becomes one of the fundamental issues of legislation aiming to regulate data protection. But the exhaustive process of determining which data may or may not be processed by the administrations also becomes a central theme, if we want to guarantee not only the security of computer data processing but also citizens' privacy.



In the common position, we can see a commendable desire to guarantee security in the computer processing and handling of data on citizens, through the setting up of cautionary provisions as regards its transfer and, related to this, through the recognition of the data subject's right to have access to it and to have it modified if it is incorrect. But there is no exhaustive definition of the data which should be processed and the administrations which should have the power to process it and protect it. Data liable to manipulation such as that pertaining to racial or ethnic origin, political opinions, religious or philosophical convictions or membership of a trade union, and the processing of data relating to health and sexuality, are not completely excluded and, even if it is claimed that they are protected by the principle of confidentiality, the application of this principle is subject to so many public and private exceptions that it can be said without exaggeration that in practice it becomes unworkable.

To summarize, despite the positive aspects of the common position, I cannot but express my concern to see the problems presented by the processing and handling of data, and the movement of such data, solved not only with technical measures, but also through the use of political measures for the protection of individuals' rights.


I think this is Luigi Andrea Florio MEP another MEP (this time from Spain) from 1994-1999 who comes up with a ...



...on google.  Again he has no picture on the EU website but MySpace did come up with this...



Florio (FE). — (IT) Mr President, first I should like to congratulate the rapporteur, Mr Medina Ortega, on the work he has done, which we regard as very positive.  This legislation aims to provide a framework for a sector in need of European rules, which do not yet exist, and hence to create also a law which will support the proper operation of the internal market, and that, I would say, should certainly be stressed. There are important features in this legislation concerning essentially the protection of confidential information and secrecy, the opportunity to have access to one's personal data and a system of control designed to avoid data abuse.



Of course, as other speakers have pointed out before me, there is a problem with regard to the many exceptions to the so-called principle of confidentiality; they are, I would say, sufficiently detailed, sufficiently precise, but numerous. Since we all, I think, in this Parliament know how important it is to protect this principle of confidentiality so as to avoid the threat of the shadow of Big Brother in Europe, whilst at the same time we all know how important it is for data to be in circulation for a modern economic and political system, we think that this legislation has been able to strike a suitable balance between confidentiality and free movement of data. Much will have to be done however to ensure that the rules of the individual States receiving this common position pay special attention to protecting this principle of confidentiality, which is fundamental in a liberal democracy such as that in which we wish to live. In this spirit we shall vote in favour of this common position.



Thanks to the Germain Central Archives we do have a picture (Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-1990-0124-314 / Mittelstädt, Rainer / CC-BY-SA) of the late Wolfgang Ullman - theology professor and expert in medieval ethics turned MP and then MEP Alliance '90/The Greens.

Ullmann (V). — (DE) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, this directive is concerned with a key aspect of the information society, namely the balance between the basic rights to freedom of information and protection of the individual. Allow me to express my satisfaction at the fact that with this draft directive a decision has been taken, following Parliament's proposal, that is the only objectively appropriate one, namely a decision in favour of uniform data protection that is not split between the private and the public sector. Only this kind of uniform data protection is consistent with the basic right to informational self-determination, which is made up of the dual aspect of the right to freedom of information on the one hand and the protection of personal data on the other.



With it's emphasis on decimating search engine results rather than removing actual articles the Right to be Forgotten has been compared to going into a local library and destroying the book index.  The information still exists it just cant be found because there is no data.
Time for Christopher H Bidmead to explain recursion again?


I do not have enough speaking time to go into the various advantages of this proposal, such as the replacement of the old-fashioned filing and card-index system by data processing. It is my duty to point to the desiderata that the directive has not satisfied. Unfortunately, it is incompatible with its aims and content to apply the directive to the actual European Union bodies. I would strongly urge the Commission to continue and intensify its efforts to that end.

The decision in favour of a uniform data-protection system makes it painfully clear that these new rules are not applicable to an area that is particularly in need of data-protection rules, namely asylum and police policy, which comes under what is called the third section. Here we must appeal to all the responsible Union bodies: anyone who introduces uniform data-protection rules must also be committed to achieving uniform responsibility on the part of the European Union, which is absolutely unattainable by adherence to inter-state agreements of the Schengen kind!



The 1985 Schengen agreement allowed for open boarders within the EU
except loads of countries didn't join it or had opt outs of it was a bit naff
It also was intended to "harmonize" data transfer...

 
I am emphasizing that because this is of course where the whole lack of uniformity between Member States' data protection laws comes to light. My group would therefore have called in the directive for an equivalent rather than merely an adequate level of protection for the transfer of data to third countries. However, we have abandoned this demand in the interests of achieving Union-wide data protection.

Ullman's solution to the problem that no one outside the EU will take this seriously and to the competition between rights of freedom of expression and privacy is to have a new bureaucratic body dedicated to figuring out what is and is not important data...?

That makes it all the more urgent in our view, Commissioner, to place the control measures proposed in Articles 28 and 29 in the hands of an independent body in charge of data protection. Incidentally, I agree with the media criticism about restricting the de facto need to protect personal data by the words 'only if' inserted in Amendment No 5.

We dont know where these 'only if' words were going to go in articles 28 and 29 but the exact wording as it stands is

(28) Whereas any processing of personal data must be lawful and fair to the individuals concerned; whereas, in particular, the data must be adequate, relevant and not excessive in relation to the purposes for which they are processed; whereas such purposes must be explicit and legitimate and must be determined at the time of collection of the data; whereas the purposes of processing further to collection shall not be incompatible with the purposes as they were originally specified;

(29) Whereas the further processing of personal data for historical, statistical or scientific purposes is not generally to be considered incompatible with the purposes for which the data have previously been collected provided that Member States furnish suitable safeguards; whereas these safeguards must in particular rule out the use of the data in support of measures or decisions regarding any particular individual;


Prophetically Ullman continues...

I hope that those who vote for this 'only if' will have it on their conscience when the first court cases are held about the interpretation of this wording. However, I do not want to conclude with prophesies of doom but to express my satisfaction at the fact that all three European Union legislative bodies have endeavoured together in this directive to ensure that when we speak of the hard core of the European Union we do not just mean monetary union but that this hard core is made up of the basic rights, which are grounded in and protected by the laws and constitution of the Union.




Dr Ole Krarup (born 17 March 1935 in Århus) is a Danish EU politician who's name when said phonetically makes a terrible pun in English who was a professor of law at the University of Copenhagen who and became an MEP from 1994 to 2006

Krarup (EDN). — (DA) Mr President, this is a question of very complicated law, and although I have great respect for the rapporteur and his work, I feel it is a question of a second reading which is, to a certain degree, a closely defined job. It is stated somewhere in the Council's argument, that one thus creates clear and stable legal frameworks where individual personal protection is balanced against the consideration of free exchange. I must say that these clear and stable legal frameworks leave something to be desired. There are a number of fundamental points which, in the final analysis, put the law enforcer in a situation which in Denmark we refer to as 'selling elastic by the metre'. This means that there is so much uncertainty that we do not really know what is important in this directive, i.e. what is the decisive protection. Is it the concern for the personal integrity or is it the concern for the free exchange?



There is no — and this is an old wound from the time the directive proposal first saw the light of day and was here for its first reading — principal position taken with regard to the very large area relating to weighing the two considerations.

A second point which I, as a lawyer, question, is that the control problem leaves much to be desired. If one reads Article 18 again it will be noted that, to a certain extent, it is the persons responsible for registering who check themselves. With regard to that, which I consider to be an important problem, namely the individual's right to knowledge, there are rules in Article 12, but they have been almost 100% nullified by the modifications in Article 13.

(12) Whereas the protection principles must apply to all processing of personal data by any person whose activities are governed by Community law; whereas there should be excluded the processing of data carried out by a natural person in the exercise of activities which are exclusively personal or domestic, such as correspondence and the holding of records of addresses;

(13) Whereas the acitivities referred to in Titles V and VI of the Treaty on European Union regarding public safety, defence, State security or the acitivities of the State in the area of criminal laws fall outside the scope of Community law, without prejudice to the obligations incumbent upon Member States under Article 56 (2), Article 57 or Article 100a of the Treaty establishing the European Community; whereas the processing of personal data that is necessary to safeguard the economic well-being of the State does not fall within the scope of this Directive where such processing relates to State security matters;

And if you understand what any of that means you're doing better than me...

And finally the last point, which also concerns the matter in question. What character does the directive actually have? It is formulated as a framework directive which, in practice, confronts the individual legislations in the individual national states with their own independent choice. In Denmark we have a comprehensive register legislation. We have had it for many years and there is no equivalent in other countries. In time this directive will, of course, give rise to demands for more comprehensive harmonization. I believe that they are important problems and I believe that they should be exposed in this context, even if we can, for the most part, support a number of the proposed changes which the rapporteur has submitted.

Elisabeth
Hlavac is an Austrian MEP about whom I could find very little detail except that she was born on 25 February 1952.  She studied law at the University of Vienna became an MEP in 1995 and left in 1996.  She sat on the Committee on Legal Affairs and seems to think it's all tickety boo...  She doesn't have a picture on the EU website but we think she may look like this...



Hlavac (PSE). — (DE) Mr President, the processing and networking of data is becoming increasingly important. The meteoric rate of progress in this field has created possibilities that were still inconceivable one or two decades ago, or even a few years ago. But that also increases the fear of misuse, the fear that the data will be transferred in an improper manner or used improperly or that the wrong data will be used. Data-protection rules must be laid down for every democratic state as a matter of course.

But it is not just a question of high standards of protection —which are our main concern — but also of harmonization and standardization. That is both necessary and desirable given the existing and ever-increasing internationalization of data transfers.

If the internal market is to function, it must be made possible to transfer personal data regardless of the Member State in which it is processed or required, while at the same time protecting basic rights. That is why data-protection organizations have generally welcomed this directive. In terms of content too, the data protectors of my country at least have indicated their approval. Even if it does not satisfy everybody's wishes, it is clearly recognizable as representing progress.



I would like to take this opportunity to thank the rapporteur for energetically resisting the attempts to water down the proposal and thereby reduce the data protection. Europe must commit itself to high standards. The Committee on Legal Affairs has only proposed a few amendments, and in particular clarifications, in its recommendation. The rapporteur has presented these proposals. Most of them are corrections and clarifications. We are, however, particularly concerned with the proposal on comitology. I would like to express the hope that the Council will endorse Parliament's views here.

Finally, let me emphasize again that all in all this draft directive forms a useful basis for data protection in the Community and in relation to third countries and that it takes account of the interests of data protection.



Jim Janssen van Raaij is no longer with us having died in 2010.  This Netherlands wikipedia page tells us via google translate that there were allegations of some kind of fraud involving a football pension fund which "discredited him" or didn't.  Whatever.  I dont suppose it matters now as we cant libel a dead man except in that he might have had motivations to bring the press to heel... Anyway he didn't activate his EU right to be forgotten before he snuffed it so here he is...  He had quite a long career and was in the EU parliament for a long time and fell out and in out with various parties he represented.  I think he was some kind of lawyer by training.  It's probably simpler or more complicated than that but my poor language skills have made it vaguer...

Janssen van Raay (PPE). — (NL) Mr President, I should first of all like to compliment Commissioner Monti, who is now bringing what is a difficult subject and a sensitive directive to a successful conclusion.

I would also thank his representatives in the Legal Affairs Committee who, by acknowledging the thinking behind my four amendments, have made it possible for all four of them to be withdrawn. To put the record straight, I would point out that the amendments which were to some extent tabled accidentally and in fact late by Mrs Oomen Ruijten ...



Mrs Ria Oomen Ruijten MEP
of the Christian Democratic Appeal
had some ideas everyone else thought pants

...have also been withdrawn, namely Amendments Nos 9, 10, I 1 and 12.  In other words, we are now left with the amendments by the Legal Affairs Committee, which we shall support, as Mrs Palacio Vallelersundi ....



Mrs Palacio Vallelersundi
from Madrid has now left the Eurpoean Parliament
to become Spanish Foreign Minister

....said, rather than those by Mrs Oddy. I should like to clarify two points. I was able to withdraw my Amendment No 9 in favour of Amendment No 1, which includes the term 'business confidentiality'. Of course, everyone must have access to the data relating to them, but not where business confidentiality is involved. I would give just one example, that of data on career potential held by a personnel department. It goes without saying that this is not available to the interested party, since otherwise there would be a tremendous uproar in any business holding this kind of data on career potential in its computers.

Amendment No 3 is also very important, adding as it does the phrase 'alone or jointly with others'. I am in favour of this because it expressly covers the idea of a group of companies. In other words, when it comes to the exchange of data between various legal persons who are part of a single combine, this must be regarded as the internal processing of the data within an individual registration. It seems to me that these are two obvious points and practical improvements, and I hope that consideration will be given to them. Finally, I should of course like to congratulate my friend and colleague Mr Medina Ortega: after the particularly difficult start by Mr Hoon, who genuinely did his best, he deserves all the praise he has received for this excellent and important report.



Alekos Alavanos was elected to the European Parliament in 1981 with the Communist Party of Greece and again in 1989, 1994 and 1999 with Synaspismos (an ecological party).  During his youth and the military dictatorship of 1967-1974 he was briefly imprisoned for wanting to vote and stuff.  At the moment he is in the Greek "Plan B" Party which complains that the only plan B to the Euro is to leave the EU or something and is busy trying to get everyone to exit the EU following Greece's ...erm ... financial difficulties.

Alavanos (GUE/NGL). — (EL) Mr President, you too, in person, have had experience of the way 'files' work in a country with a turbulent political history, such as Greece only a few decades ago, and we all understand how great are the provocations, dangers and threats against personal rights that arise in the context of the information society, in which all the dimensions of personal activity can be recorded and can follow the individual at every step.

In view of this, it is clearly necessary to establish a legal situation relating to data processing, that will safeguard the rights of the individual and will be harmonized within the European Union. I too think that this proposed Council directive is positive, though I have many reservations about how well individual rights will be safeguarded, reservations expressed on behalf of my group by my colleague Mrs Gonzalez as well.



What I would like to stress in particular, and I think the point has been grasped by the representative of the Greens, is that today there exist two speeds in the EU in relation to the protection of personal data. There are countries such as Greece, in which there is no legal framework.



Some people from Europol trying to imagine they're in Law and Order

We are preparing to enter the common information system of the Schengen Agreement, without having a corresponding legal framework for the protection of data. We also see that Community interventions and measures are tending to establish those two speeds more firmly still. Characteristically, I want to express my grave concern about the measures that seem to be in course of preparation for Europol, which, in relation to accessing data concerning individuals, envisage different situations for the citizens of different countries, depending on the system that applies to personal data in relation to the national police force. From that standpoint, I think it would be very important, when finalizing the way this directive is formulated, for the Commission to issue us with a written description of the legal framework and the differences that exist in different countries concerning this issue.



Freddie Blak is an MEP from Denmark who complains about Commission Secrecy
but doesn't tell everyone everything about his own financial interests...?

Blak (PSE). — (DA) Mr President, common rules in the register legislation involve two fundamental principles for a democratic society. In the first place protection of personal rights, and secondly, the free exchange of information. It is very important to me that it is shown, clearly and precisely, that the freedom of the press is not inhibited. I would therefore like to establish that there will be a balance between the protection of the peace of private life, and freedom of expression. This view is also acknowledged in The European Convention on Human Rights. A guarantee shall be added to the text to the effect that the press may be exempt from the directive. In addition, researchers and statistics offices shall also be exempt, so that they are able to follow up their results and, for example, see how subsequent action has worked. Otherwise we risk destroying the entire health research.

A proper control and administration which belongs in a modern information society, shall be ensured, so that we avoid unnecessary bureaucracy whereby every little register has to be reported. Honestly, it sounds as though someone has thought this up in some or other technocratic office far removed from modern reality. Shall I now register all the notes I have in my diary or the list I have of my grandchild Niklas' play-school friends? We need balance between an efficient administration of the public sector and regard for the peace of private life.



I suppose what they're trying to achieve is some kind of computer / internet equivalent of allowing people to declare themselves ex-directory but with no attempt to distinguish between media publications, art and/or utilitarian data stores...?  I mean technically my phone SIM card is a database ... isn't it?





"Super" Mario Monti (later Prime Minister of Italy) was a European Commissioner from 1994 to 1999, he was responsible for internal market, financial services and financial integration, customs, and taxation.  Photo by Dana Crielly

Monti, Member of the Commission. — (174) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, first I should like to thank Parliament for supporting the Commission on this proposal for a directive which, as you well know, has involved particularly complicated work in the Council. I think that the results obtained are remarkable as has, moreover, been stressed in this evening's speeches; that is for three reasons: the difficulties which have been overcome, the great need for this directive and the fact that it is an ambitious one.

First the difficulties which have been overcome. When in 1990 the Commission presented its first proposal, its position and that of the various Member States seemed to differ so much as to make harmonization in this sector almost impossible. Parliament's first opinion made it possible to change the orientation of the work on the basis of clear principles subsequently adopted by the Commission in the amendment proposed to the Council and by the Council in the common position. The general approach to data protection, now the same for the public and the private sector, a dynamic application of data protection for the processing of all personal data understood in a very broad sense, the application of the rules of protection right from the stage of data collection, rules applicable to especially sensitive data, the guarantee of individual rights, a selective system of notifying processing of data to the national control authorities and their preventive examination: these are only some of the examples of the cases in which Parliament has clearly steered the text of the proposal for a directive. That, moreover, has been properly emphasized by the rapporteur for the Committee on Legal Affairs, Mr Medina Ortega, and by the rapporteur for the Committee on Economic Affairs, Mr Herman. I should like to congratulate them both on the quality of their work.



I think this is the Belgian MEP Fernand H.J.
Herman
Born on 23 January 1932, Boirs died on 4 April 2005

Secondly, the great need for this directive. That has been quite obvious ever since the actual realization of the internal market led to an exponential increase in the transfer within the European Union of personal data in both the public and the private sector. In addition it is well known that this directive is henceforth one of the indispensable features of the legal framework of the information society if we wish consumers to use the new telematic services with full confidence. Regard being had to the needs met by the directive, its adoption and implementation are timely and urgent.

Thirdly, and the last important point in the directive: as I said, it is an ambitious directive! It is ambitious to begin with in its subject, since it is perhaps the first Community instrument directed towards harmonizing the protection of the individual's fundamental rights. But that is not all: it is ambitious again in its field of application, which covers potentially all sectors of the Union's economic and social life. On this point I should like to stress that the proposal for a directive, once again following Parliament's initial opinion, is intended to provide a framework to establish a strict balance between considerations which are at times contradictory: on the one hand private life, on the other freedom of expression, freedom of association, the needs of various sectors of economic life, the needs of scientific research in the medical field, to mention only some instances. In brief, every provision is the result of careful consideration.

It is good to read every provision has been carefully considered...

The Committee on Legal Affairs and the Committee on Economic Affairs, each in its own report, have successfully proposed certain improvements to the draft directive and have presented seven amendments. They provide useful clarifications of the text adopted by the Council and the Commission can accept them.

As regards comitology, and in particular the choice of the type of committee, the Commission can accept Management Committee 2B, which, in terms of powers assigned to the Commission, does not differ basically from Committee 3A, chosen by the Council, but is closer to the Commission's original proposal.

If anyone knows what Committee 2A or Committee 2B did please don't write in.

However, the Commission cannot accept Amendment No 8, which has in fact been rejected by your Committee on Legal Affairs. It was submitted by Mrs Oddy and refers to a very special situation which is, moreover, very difficult to define clearly in a few words.

The Commission thinks it might emphasize that the draft directive is a framework document which makes it possible to find a solution to this type of situation by applying general criteria to identify the person responsible for processing the data.

I come at last to a point which has been raised, namely that of the protection of the individual in relation to processing of data by the Commission, the other Community institutions and bodies and also by national authorities in non-Community matters: reference has been made to the third pillar. The Commission wants the protection of individuals, in relation to the processing of their data, to be guaranteed by principles which are the same in every Union sphere: in the Community sphere, in the inter-governmental or purely national sphere, and likewise in the sphere peculiar to the Community institutions.

Well, it certainly makes me think of the EU in terms of Spheres.  Two of them.

Of course this directive, on the strictly legal plane, is addressed to the Member States, and carries obligations only in Community matters. But it is equally clear that the Community instrument will have to be a strict inspiration to the Member States and the Community institutions as regards matters pertaining to their own respective powers.  As soon as the directive is adopted the Commission will apply its principles internally. Work has already begun in that direction. The Commission will continue to apply that approach at inter-government level.

Finally Mr President, I hope that, in the light of your work, the directive may be speedily approved and my congratulations again to the rapporteur.



And finally back to Black

Blak (PSE). — (DA) Mr President, I could think of putting a question to the Commissioner when he speaks so warmly in favour of this directive. Are the secret archives which are kept in computer registers, of people who are HIV-tested by the Commission going to be destroyed? I know that it goes on, without the persons concerned having any idea at all about it.


Personally I didn't know that the Commission was secretly testing people for HIV.  Now that really is a conspiracy theory?  and perhaps why suddenly...



President. — The debate is closed.
The vote will be taken tomorrow, at 12 noon.
 




Photo Credits

Stolen from your self publicity and the EU
in deliberate violation of
the EU’s 1995 Data Protection Directive