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EU outlines principles to govern future data sharing

The European Commission has published a set of principles it says will guide it when formulating future policy on the sharing of personal information. It has also outlined all existing EU rules which order the sharing of data.21 Jul 2010

Individuals' rights to privacy will be central to the development of any new EU rules, the Commission said. When a new policy has an impact on these rights it said that it will explain what that impact is and why it is necessary.

"Safeguarding persons’ fundamental rights as enshrined in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, particularly their right to privacy and personal data protection, will be a primary concern for the Commission when developing new proposals that involve the processing of personal data in the field of internal security or migration management," the Commission noted in the statement outlining existing rules.
"In all future policy proposals, the Commission will assess the initiative’s expected impact on individuals’ right and set out why such an impact is necessary and why the proposed solution is proportionate," it said. "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."

The Commission has listed all the 'instruments' – systems, schemes, co-operation agreements and EU directives – which order the collection or transmission of personal data. It lists the purpose of each as well as an assessment of how useful it is.

"The Commission presents today a clear, comprehensive and transparent summary of instruments regulating the collection, storage or cross-border exchange of personal data for the purpose of law enforcement or migration management, setting out at the same time the core principles that should underpin the evaluation of information management instruments in the area of freedom, security and justice," said a Commission statement. "These same principles will be followed in the future development of instruments for data collection, storage or exchange."

"Citizens should have the right to know what personal data are kept and exchanged about them," said EU Commissioner for Home Affairs Cecilia Malmström. "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," she said.

The Commission said that it would examine all the rules and schemes that mandate data collection and assess which of them need to be reviewed and when.

"The Commission will evaluate each instrument covered in today's communication, in accordance with the reporting obligations laid down in each instrument," said the Commission in a statement. "This should provide a reliable picture of how individual instruments fit into the broader landscape of internal security and migration management."

"Future proposals will include, where appropriate, an annual reporting obligation, periodic and ad hoc reviews, as well as a sunset clause. Existing instruments will only be maintained if they continue to serve the legitimate purpose for which they were designed," it said.