Data protection: International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners adopt series of resolutions calling for global standards

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The 25th International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners in Sydney, Australia (10-12 September) adopted four defining resolutions on data protection which seeks to define global standards and call on international and supra-national bodies to incorporate standards and safeguards established at national level.

One of the Resolution is on "Transfer of Passengers' Data". It was proposed by the Swiss, Czech, Finnish and German Data Protection Commissioners/Ombudsman. The adopted Resolution says:

"A. The Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners notes that:

1. In the course of the legitimate struggle against terrorism and organised crime measures are being considered in some countries that could threaten fundamental rights and freedoms, in particular the right to privacy.

2. There is a danger of undermining democracy and freedom by measures designed to defend it.

3. Legal requirements on airlines and other transports to provide access to, or transfer data from, comprehensive passenger data stored in reservation systems could conflict with international data protection principles or those providers’ obligations under national data protection laws.

B. The Conference therefore affirms that:

1. In the fight against terrorism and organised crime, countries should determine their responses paying full regard to fundamental data protection principles, which are integral parts of the values being defended.

2. Where regular international transfers of personal data are necessary, they should take place within a framework taking data protection into account, e.g. on the basis of an international agreement stipulating adequate data protection requirements, including clear purpose limitation, adequate and non-excessive data collection, limited data retention time, information provision to data subjects, the assurance of data subject rights and independent supervision."

Tony Bunyan, Statewatch editor, comments:

"This Resolution is very welcome news. It should send a warning to those in the European Union who seem prepared to negotiate away hard won rights in the face of intransigent demands from the USA for access to detailed personal information on passengers which will be checked against so-called "watch-lists". The deal on the table and the bilateral agreement suggested by the European Commission will not meet the standards set out in the Resolution"

See: European Commission tells USA that demands for access to data on airline passengers breaches EU Data Protection Directive - but hints at a deal that would "fudge" the issue

In a press release on 17 September the International Conference released the text of the four resolutions:

1. Resolution on improving the communication of data protection and privacy information practices

2. Resolution concerning the Transfer of Passengers' Data

3. Resolution on Data Protection and International Organisations

4. Proposed Resolution on Automatic Software Updates

5. Press release (link)

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