June 20, 2003


On Tuesday I complained about pending Eurostrictions. Today I'd like to give the EU some credit. Not a lot, but some. In the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights are a couple of articles that might make our Total Terrorist Information Act folks cringe

Article 7
Respect for private and family life

Everyone has the right to respect for his or her private and family life, home and communications.

Article 8
Protection of personal data

1. Everyone has the right to the protection of personal data concerning him or her.

2. Such data must be processed fairly for specified purposes and on the basis of the consent of the person concerned or some other legitimate basis laid down by law. Everyone has the right of access to data which has been collected concerning him or her, and the right to have it rectified.

3.Compliance with these rules shall be subject to control by an independent authority.
This looks pretty good. I give the EU credit for this.

How fragile such protections are, though, when modified with words like "or some other legitimate basis laid down by law." This phrase contradicts the idea that Article 8.1 is a fundamental right and allows for its abrogration.

Thus we find Statewatch saying that the EU folks, maybe the above referenced independent authority, are "highly critical' of arrangements being made to give private information to the US. A reading of the report itself suggests they have already buckled under and that it is a matter of how much data for how long not a flat out no.

Yea, they are critical but they are not adamant and when it comes to fundamental rights you must be adament.
Via Bespacific

Posted by Steve on June 20, 2003

I have to appreciate the plain language it's written in, too. No Latin, no "party of the first part," no "whereunder, whereas, and wheretofore."

I think they had to put in a clause like that regarding release of data, though, or you'd have a schizophrenic barring a new doctor from getting previous medical records, a suspect barring police from accessing prior criminal records, etc. It's not always up to you to determine who gets to see what information about yourself. If you're suspected of embezzlement, law enforcement has a legitmate need to look into your banking records. They probably didn't have John Ashcroft in mind when they wrote the document, though.

Posted by Nurse Ratched at June 20, 2003 1:52 PM

Yes, I was surprised at how readable the document is.

It is the very fact that the Ashcrofts of the world exist that leads me to think that the various 'or as laid down by law' clauses that show up as modifiers in various constitutions need to be more tightly crafted.

I do not think that it is at all inappropriate with respect to criminal investigations to specifically require the issue of a search warrant based on substantive probably cause before law enforcement gets access to any records (and no Star Chamber stuff like the Foreign Intelligence surveillance Act (FISA) court. We are supposedly innocent until proven guilty.

On the other hand I have no trouble with specific language noting that criminal records will always be a matter of public record. (We just have to be careful with what we allow to be considered a crime...remember the Ashcrofts).

Regarding that schizophrenic I wonder what impact the new HIPPA regulations will have on how available precious medical records will be?

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