Monday, March 13, 2006

"Interoperability of databases: EDPS raises concerns on principal issues and calls for a better analysis"

According to the EU Press Room, "The European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) has issued comments on policy options for the interoperability of databases in the area of Justice and Home Affairs, as presented in a recent Communication of the European Commission. Although not properly defined in the Communication, it is clear that 'interoperability' raises a number of questions in relation to data protection which need a better analysis. The EDPS also strongly discourages the use of biometric data, such as fingerprints - or perhaps even DNA - as a unique identification key. The accuracy of biometrics is overestimated in this respect and it will facilitate unwarranted interconnection of databases.
Peter Hustinx, EDPS, says: 'The Commission argues that interoperability is a technical rather than a legal or political concept. This is confusing and only serves to avoid fundamental issues. Interoperable systems increase the risks for citizens, if such systems allow for new access to their personal data. It is essential to examine this more carefully and not hide it as a technicality'.
In his initial comments to the Communication, the EDPS underlines that he needs to be consulted on any legislative proposals that may stem from it. He also makes some specific observations, such as welcoming the Commission's analysis that there shall be a much higher threshold for access when internal security authorities query databases in other domains than when they query criminal data bases.
The EDPS regularly issues opinions on proposals for legislation that relate to data protection. When necessary, the EDPS also reacts to other related documents, such as Commission Communications, because of their possible long term policy impact.

The comments are available on our website.

For more information, please contact the EDPS Press Service at: +32 2 283 19 00"