Commission strengthens the data protection policy

By EDRi · July 19, 2006

(Dieser Artikel ist auch in deutscher Sprache verfügbar)

Following a complaint by a German citizen against the Hamburg State on the
way the public authorities may handle the personal data and a series of
arguments from the European Ombudsman and European Data Protection
Supervisor, the European Commission decided to review its interpretation of
the Data Protection Directive, in order to provide a more extensive

The German citizen made an infringement complaint in 2004 to the Commission
against the State of Hamburg. The complainant considered that the public
authorities were breaching Article 14(1)(b) of the EU Data Protection
Directive when the public authorities could hand over personal data to
companies, even when they knew that the date were used for direct marketing
purposes. The initial answer of the Commission stated that the Directive did
not cover this eventuality. In its view it only provided protection against
public authorities using personal data for their own direct marketing

The European Ombudsman intervened and started an inquiry, consulting also
the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS). The Ombudsman considered
that ” The Commission’s interpretation appeared to exclude from
the scope of “controller” in Article 14(1)(b) public authorities and bodies
which do not constitute “competitive public-law enterprises” (cf. remarks in
point 1.5 above), notwithstanding the explicit reference to “public
authority” in Article 2(d) of the Directive, and despite the fact that the
text of Article 14(1)(b) does not make any such distinction.” Therefore the
Ombudsman asked the Commission to review its interpretation of the

The European Commission accepted the proposal and “decided to undertake a
renewed legal analysis of the case and of its own interpretation of Article
14(1)(b) of the Data Protection Directive in light of the arguments put
forward by the complainant and by the Ombudsman.” Also the Commission stated
that it would address the issue with the Member States in order to improve
national legislation in the field of data protection

Ombudsman welcomes Commission move towards better data protection

Decision of the European Ombudsman on complaint 2467/2004/PB against the
European Commission (9.06.2006)