Intellectual property/ telecommunications: Protection of privacy on the Internet

United Kingdom

The Commission is seeking a brief from the Council of Ministers to negotiate with the Council of Europe the drafting of "Guidelines for the protection of individuals with regard to the protection and processing of personal data on the Information Highway".

There are already two Directives existing for the protection of privacy:

  • The Directive on the protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data and on the free movement of such data;
  • The Directive on the protection of privacy in the telecommunications sector.

The Commission aims to negotiate with the competent Council of Europe bodies to ensure that those standards are upheld by the work of the Council of Europe and that the implementation of these Directives is not undermined. The Guidelines would not be binding but by adopting them Member States of the Council of Europe would commit themselves politically to supporting the measures proposed and to recommend their implementation by businesses, users and authorities.

Through such negotiations, the Commission would seek to apply the principles of the right of a person to be informed of data processing operations involving him and to object to any processing; the conditions under which data could be disclosed to third parties for reasons of national security or crime prevention; and the principle that personal data should be used as little as possible.