EU: Belgian Privacy Committee supports MEP's complaint on illegal transfer of personal data to USA



Press release:

"EU / PRIVACY - TRANSATLANTIC FLIGHTS: BELGIAN PRIVACY COMMITTEE SUPPORTS MARCO CAPPATO BY STATING THE ILLEGALITY OF THE TRANSFER OF HIS PERSONAL DATA TO THE US

Marco Cappato, Radical MEP, had tabled a complaint to the Belgian Privacy Committee concerning the transfer of his personal data to the US authorities, after he had flought from Brussels to the US. The Belgian Privacy Committee has stated in an opinion of the 18th of December 2003 now published, that the US ariline companies that have transferred passengers' personal data have violated the Belgian law of implementation of EU privacy acts. The opinion has been sent to the Belgian Justice Ministry. The Belgian Privacy Committee has notably stated:

"- the non respect, in the moment when facts happened, by United Airlines, Continental and Delta airlines, of the principle of finality (article 4 of the Belgian law);
- the non respect of the obligation to inform (art. 9);
- the non respect of the provisions concerning the transfer of personal data to non-EU countries (art. 21)"

Declaration by Marco Cappato, Radical MEP of the Lista Bonino, EP rapporteur on privacy:

"The opinion delivered by the Belgian Privacy Committe honours - apart form the fundamental right to privacy - the principle of legality, by stating that EU law and Belgian law is violated by those airlines transferring passengers' personal data, without their consent, to law enforcement authorities of Third Countries.

This opinion sheds a light on a fake debate that is currently taking place, that depicts the Europe as being obliged to tolerate a unilateral US decisions, and engaged through the EU Commission to find a compromise with the US in order to raise guarantees on personal data treatment. In reality, the EU, both at the Commission level as at the Member States level, could impose, if it only wanted, to all airline companies the respect of the law. Negotiations underway between the EU and the US to reach an "adequacy finding" agreement will furthermore not allow to solve the issue of the principle of finality, that prohibits to use data gathered for commercial purposes for security purposes in a generalised way. On the occasion of tomorrow morning meeting in Brussels of the EP Civil liberties committe, I will draw colleagues' attention on the opinion by the Belgian Privacy Committee, in the view of deciding in the next weeks on the possibility of challenging the EU Commission in front of the European Court of Justice concerning the violation of EU law on privacy. The Belgian document has also been sent to the Privacy Authorities of EU Member States, and to the Belgian Minister of Justice. I hope that they will assure that laws are respected. I adress myself to the Italian Privacy Authority, and notably to its Chief, Stefano Rodotà, currently also President of the EU Privacy Authorities working party, to ask him to intervene at the national and European level so to assure that the law and the corresponding adeguate sanctions are finally applied".

The text of the Privacy Committee opinion is published on http://www.radicalparty.org/privacy/etats_un.pdf (French version)

For further information: Ottavio Marzocchi, Advisor to Radical MEPs
Tel: +32 2 2843995 omarzocchi@europarl.eu.int

See Statewatch's Observatory on the passing of personal data to the USA


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