E-government and privacy in Denmark

By EDRi · September 9, 2004

“We are currently renegotiating the open society”, Gus Hosein from Privacy International stated at a conference on E-government and the protection of personal data in the Danish Parliament on Tuesday 7 September.

The vision of the Danish e-government initiative is one in which personal data are increasingly floating across traditional institutional borders, without paying much attention to the privacy challenges this raises. The conference addressed a number of data protection challenges related to e-government such as re-use of data, data retention, rights of access, and technical solutions such as digital signatures and PET. Considering the large amount of data already being stored about citizens in Denmark, and the proposed mandatory one year data retention scheme (not yet in force), several interventions stated it is crucial that privacy safeguards are enforced and that citizens become more privacy conscious.

The debate at the conference showed some concern for the current development, and several of the debaters were sceptical towards the official optimism about the wonders of digital administration. The Danish Human Rights Institute proposed that the whole e-government thinking be turned up-side down, to give the individual control of his or her own data, and to have the legal architecture depart from human rights principles such as proportionality, dignity and self-autonomy.

The Conference was organised by Prosa (Danish union for IT workers), The Association of Legal Affairs, The Danish Institute for Human Rights, and the Danish Board of Technology.

(Contribution by Rikke Frank Joergensen, EDRI-member Digital Rights Denmark)