Privacy protection does not hold back the fight against terrorism
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In a press conference on 18 September, Peter Hustinx, the European Data
Protection Supervisor (EDPS) expressed the opinion that terrorism fighting
legislation must observe data protection rights.
The EDPS has advised EU bodies on relevant and very controversial data
protection issues like the transfer of PNR-data, the telecommunications data
retention, and large scale IT-systems such as the Visa and Schengen.
According to Hustinx, privacy and data protection does not hinder the fight
against terrorism and crime.
“It is a misconception that protection of privacy and personal data holds
back the fight against terrorism and organised crime. Current legislation
however does allow for instance law enforcement to check suspicious phone
numbers found in a computer. Good data protection actually goes hand in hand
with legitimate crime fighting because it increases the quality of data
bases and at the same time makes sure that only the right people can access
them” said Hustinx.
If adopted, the new legislation on fighting terrorism will provide an
unprecedented data exchange. Citizens must have the guarantee that their
personal data are used only by authorised entities and only when necessary.
One concern expressed by the EDPS is that a check-up of about 100 existing
personal data processing systems has revealed that in most cases
institutions do not advise individuals when their data are processed and
The EDPS is actually one of the few European institutions that tries to make
a correct balance in the present controversial debates regarding security
legislation, by advising on adequate safeguards and clear standards of data
EU and the right to privacy: EDPS on mid-term state of play (18.09.2006)
Terrorism no excuse for privacy breaches, says EU regulator (19.09.2006)