|Author (Person)||Chapman, Peter|
|Series Title||European Voice|
|Series Details||Vol.7, No.46, 13.12.01, p31|
The MEP scrutinising the European Commission's draft data privacy rules has warned that they will offer individuals little protection from having their phones tapped or e-mails intercepted if member states have their way.
Although telecoms ministers voted last week against rules forcing industry to automatically retain information such as traffic data, Italian civil rights campaigner Marco Cappato said he was concerned that they had also scrapped his call for a ban on automatic "wide-spread or exploratory surveillance".
The MEP had insisted that such surveillance should be allowed only on an ad hoc basis, following a court order in accordance with the European Convention on Human Rights. He said the ministers had removed a reference to the Convention in the main body of the directive and relegated it to a footnote.
In its place they stipulated that steps such as data retention taken on national security grounds should merely be in line with principles of community law.
"The legally binding element of all this could be questioned, but for sure they weakened the position of Parliament regarding fundamental rights to liberty," said Cappato, whose report was passed in its first reading by a 320-90 majority.
MEPs must now decide whether to back Cappato's original report or accept some or all of the ministers' demands.
In another face-off with the Parliament, member states called for direct marketing firms to seek prior permission from would-be customers before sending them sales pitches by e-mail - unless there was an existing sales relationship.
The so-called 'soft opt-in' option was hailed by the European Consumer Association (BEUC) as a victory for consumers facing a deluge of e-mails and text messages on their computers and mobile phones.
But Cappato said he was "still convinced" that the problem would be better resolved by allowing member states to choose between an opt-in or opt-out system. In the latter case, internet users could place their names on lists of people who do not want to receive "junk e-mail".
Cappato said he was canvassing the views of his fellow MEPs on last week's decision. But he said there was no time to agree a new system before the end of the year.
If the Council of Ministers and Parliament cannot bury their differences, a three-month conciliation procedure will ensue, meaning the data privacy law would not be adopted until mid to late 2002.
The MEP scrutinising the European Commission's draft data privacy rules has warned that they will offer individuals little protection from having their phones tapped or emails intercepted if Member States have their way.
|Subject Categories||Internal Markets|