Tuesday, March 21, 2006

"'Broadband for all': Commission mobilises all its policy instruments to bridge the broadband gap"

According to the EU Press Room, "The Commission considers wide broadband coverage in Europe as crucial for fostering growth and jobs in Europe. This is why EU telecoms legislation, structural and rural policy instruments need to be mobilised in full respect of state aid rules in a joint drive to bring high-speed 'broadband' internet access to all Europeans, in particular to the EU’s less-developed areas. This is the conclusion of 'Bridging the Broadband Gap', a European Commission Communication presented today jointly by the European Commissioners for Information Society and Media, Competition, Regional Policy and Agriculture and Rural Development."

This Press Release is available in full text.

Friday, March 17, 2006

"Electronic signatures: legally recognised but cross-border take-up too slow, says Commission"

As stated by the EU Press Room, "The reluctant take-up of electronic signature tools is slowing down the growth of trade in goods and services via the internet, says the Commission in a progress report published this week. However, growing use of electronic ID cards and the use of e-signatures in e-government services, such as on-line income tax returns, are expected to drive demand in the future. The report also confirms that the 1999 Directive on a Community framework for electronic signatures continues to provide, for the moment, a valid basis for electronic signatures in the internal market."

This Press Release is available in full text.

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"

Thursday, March 09, 2006

"Commission launches public consultation on radio frequency ID tags"

As stated by the EU Press Room, "Radio Frequency Identification Devices (RFID), which will soon replace bar codes in your supermarket, offer tremendous opportunities for business and society. But their power to report their location, identity and history also raises serious concerns about personal privacy and security, as well as technical interoperability and international compatibility. To address these concerns – some of which may well require legislative responses –, the European Commission today launched a comprehensive public consultation with a high-level Conference on RFID at the CeBit 2006 trade fair in Hannover, Germany."
This Press Release is available in full text.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

"European Commission steps up efforts to put Europe’s memory on the Web via a 'European Digital Library'"

Also according to the EU Press Room, "The European Commissions’ plan to promote digital access to Europe’s heritage is rapidly taking shape. At least six million books, documents and other cultural works will be made available to anyone with a Web connection through the European Digital Library over the next five years. In order to boost European digitisation efforts, the Commission will co-fund the creation of a Europe-wide network of digitisation centres. The Commission will also address, in a series of policy documents, the issue of the appropriate framework for intellectual property rights protection in the context of digital libraries."

This Press Release is available in full text.

"The availability principle: EDPS wants the exchange of police information to be introduced more cautiously"

As stated by the EU Press Room, "The European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) has issued an Opinion on the proposal for a framework decision on the exchange of information under the principle of availability. Introduced by the Hague program, the principle of availability means that information that is available to law enforcement authorities in one Member State should also be made accessible for equivalent authorities in other Member States. The principle raises a number of data protection issues, notably because of the sensitivity of the data and the reduced control of the use of the information."

This Press Release is available in full text.