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No 11 (March 98/Mars 98/März 98)
Acting on the initiative of Single Market Commissioner Mario Monti, the Commission is seeking a brief from the Council of Ministers to negotiate within the Council of Europe the drafting of "guidelines for the protection of individuals with regard to the collection and processing of personal data on the information highways". These recommendations, though not binding, would call upon member countries to secure their adoption by businesses, users and authorities. Commissioner Monti stresses the seriousness of the social and economic implications of the proposal and gives his assurance that the Commission will ensure that it is compatible with EU Directives and actively promotes the protection of privacy.
In the European Union a high level of protection of privacy is ensured by Directive 95/46/EC (implementation deadline 24 October 1998) on the protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data and on the free movement of such data and by the Directive on the protection of privacy in the telecommunications sector. The Commission intends to see to it that the work embarked on by the Council of Europe in this area ensures a comparable level of protection and does not interfere with the Directives' implementation.
During the work of the competent Council of Europe bodies, the Commission will pay particular attention to the specific risks arising from the processing facilities provided by the Internet; the application of the "purpose principle", the application of the principle that personal data should be used as little as possible, the practical enforcement of the right to be informed of data processing operations involving oneself and of the right to object to any processing. The Commission will also keep an eye on the conditions under which personal data may be disclosed to third parties for reasons of national security or crime prevention; the conditions under which data may be used for purposes of direct marketing; the question of cross-border data flows and implementing measures.
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