Tag Archives: edri.org

Red Alert from EDRI: Irish EU Council Presidency Proposes Destruction Of Citizens’ Right To Privacy

edri.org writes that the Irish Presidency of the European Council has distributed a “discussion paper”on the protection of citizens’ personal data ahead of this week’s Justice and Home Affairs Council in Dublin. As the first Presidency in this “European Year of the Citizen”, we had every reason to expect the Irish to produce novel ways of protecting citizens. Their first suggestions are definitely novel, but certainly are not protective of citizens’ fundamental rights.

For example, based on the current situation in Ireland, the idea is that all companies can do whatever they want with personal data, without fear of sanction. Sanctions, such as fines, “should be optional or at least conditional upon a prior warning or reprimand”. In other words, do what you want, the worst that can happen is that you will receive a warning.

Of course, policies are often proposed that sound worse in theory than they are in practice. In this case, however, we just have to look at current practice in Ireland to see what such an approach looks like. The Irish police “PULSE” database sagagives a chilling insight into the brave new world into which the Irish Presidency apparently wants to lead us.

In 2007, the Irish data protection Commissioner agreed a “self-regulation”structure with the police. In 2010, a report from a judge assessing Ireland’s data retention regime identified serious abuses happening under this “light touch” regulatory system. The abuses passed apparently unnoticed by the vastly under-resourced data protection authority (DPA) that had approved the launch of the “self-regulatory” regime. The Irish DPA availed of its option not to take immediate enforcement action against the police.

In 2011, a full four years after the system had been set up, the Irish data protection authority at last came to the conclusion that… (read the whole story HERE).

The European Parliament Demands A Net Neutrality Law

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www.edri.org writes that a large majority of European parliamentarians demanded in two non-legislative resolutions that net neutrality should be enshrined in European Union law.

In the context of a non-legislative resolution on Completing the Digital Single Market, the European Parliament “calls on the Commission to propose legislation to ensure net neutrality” and urges Commissioner Kroes to end her ill-fated “wait and see” approach.

In a second resolution on a Digital Freedom Strategy in EU Foreign Policy, the Parliament additionally stressed that it “strongly supports the principle of net neutrality, namely that internet service providers do not block, discriminate against, impair or degrade, including through price, the ability of any person to use a service to access, use, send, post, receive or offer any content, application or service of their choice, irrespective of source or target” and “calls on the Commission and Council to promote and preserve high standards of digital freedom in the EU, in particular by codifying the principle of net neutrality”.

Following its resolution on net neutrality from November 2011, this is the second time that the European Parliament has asked the Commission abandon its laissez-faire approach on this crucial policy area. Research from the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC) proves that operators interfere with traffic on their networks in socially harmful ways. They block, throttle and discriminate against applications, content and services that are competing with their own. The existing laws in many European Member States are inadequate to prevent such abuses of the open Internet.

The European Parliament’s vote showed once more that the Commission’s belief in transparency, competition and the possibility to change operators to sufficiently ensure network neutrality is inadequate.

“Users and innovators, not access providers, should continue to decide how they want to use the Internet if it is to continue to realise its potential as a barrier-free single market and as a unique platform for social and cultural activity and democratic discourse,” said Joe McNamee, Executive Director of EDRi.