GLOBAL INTERNET LIBERTY
May 28, 2002
FROM: "Elena Ornella Paciotti" <EPaciotti@europarl.eu.int>
concerning your open letter addressed to the President of the European Parliament and to all the Members of this House, let me tell you that I fully share many of the concerns you voice. It is exactly by keeping these concerns in mind that we have been working on the text of the amended directive for the past few months, in cooperation with European Data Protection authorities. We have been striving to have the proposed text amended, and the final proposal would appear to provide a few safeguards.
Indeed, it should be pointed out that the derogations referred to in the text are actually already provided for in the current wording of Article 14 of directive 97/66, and that only few EU countries have already passed legislation transposing that Article.
The current proposal (see annexe in EN and FR) is an improvement over both the text of the directive as it stands and the common position. The text of the compromise amendment - as accepted also by the EC Commission and Council - indicates that all restriction to the rights and obligations set out in the directive on the protection of privacy in the electronic communications sector must respect the principles set out by the European Court of human Rights, i.e.: that such measures must constitute "a necessary, appropriate and proportionate measure within a democratic society to safeguard national security ...". As to the possibility to retain traffic data, the compromise specifies that this can be decided only through "legislative measures" and is allowed only "for a limited period". In the end it adfirms that "All the measures referred to in this paragraph shall be in accordance with the general principles of Community law including those referred to in Article 6 paragraphs 1 and 2 of the Treaty on European Union".
Furthermore recital 11 says that all these measures shall be "in accordance with the European Convention of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms as interpreted by the rulings of the European Court of Human Rights.".
I am aware that this final proposal is not fully satisfactory, but a compromise solution seldom is. Additionally, this is a derogation - which is allowed as an exception on a local (national) basis. Like all derogations, it has to comply with very stringent, selective prerequisites. Based on these premises, I and my group are and have always been committed in ensuring that the European Parliament verifies, with the greatest care and in cooperation with Data Protection authorities, that the national transposition of this derogation is in line with the general principles I have just mentioned.
I'd also like to draw your attention to the fact that the core of this directive is the safeguard of the fundamental right to the protection of personal data in the internal market: on this I think it's essential to allow each citizen to choose whether his/her personal data can or cannot be freely treated and used by businesses. This fundamental right can be adequately guaranteed only by allowing all users to make this decision before their data are included in public directories or used for sending unsolicited e-mails.
I wish to thank you for your interest in the activity of the European Parliament; please rest assured that we are very keen on this issue and will keep the matter in the focus of our attention.
I look forward to your comments and remain
Elena Paciotti MEP
Shadow rapporteur - PES Group