European Commission supports Privacy Enhancing Technologies

By EDRi · May 9, 2007

(Dieser Artikel ist auch in deutscher Sprache verfügbar)

Commissioner Franco Frattini, who is responsible for the legislation
concerning co-operation between European police as well as data protection
of European police, has shown public support for privacy enhancing
technologies (PETs). Frattini’s position is surprising taking into
consideration its open support for other privacy-invasive projects such as
the data retention directive, EU-US PNR agreement or the planned EU
fingerprint database.

A public statement published by the European Commission (EC) on 2 May 2007
directly supports PETs, expecting them to improve the protection of privacy
as well as help fulfil the data protection rules.

“The use of PETs would be complementary to the existing legal framework and
enforcement mechanisms. In fact the intervention of different actors in the
data processing and the existence of the different national jurisdictions
involved could make enforcement of the legal framework difficult.”

The PETs mentioned in the Commission’s communication are: the automatic
anonymisation after a certain lapse of time, encryption tools,
cookie-cutters or the Platform for Privacy Preferences (P3P). These PETs
could ensure that “breaches of the data protection rules and violations of
individual’s rights are not only something forbidden…but also technically
more difficult”.

The communication shows the plans of the EC in this field through activities
such as identifying the need and technological requirements of PETs,
promoting use of PETs by the industry, ensuring respect for appropriate
standards in the protection of personal data through PETs and promoting the
use of PETs by public authorities. It also aims at direct support by
funding research on PETs: Europe contributed over 18 million Euro to PET
research as part of its 6th Framework Programme (2002-06), and this is
expected to increase significantly in the coming years.

Frattini also advanced the idea of a pan-European system of “privacy seals”
that will help the consumers.

Privacy Enhancing Technologies (PETs) (2.05.2007)

Euro Data watchdog warns of database creep (3.05.2007)