Select Committee on European Union Twelfth Report

Letter from Francis Aldhouse, Deputy Commissioner, The Office of the Data Protection Commissioner, to Leigh Gibson, Legal Assistant to the Select Committee on the European Union


Thank you for your fax of 15 March 2000.

  I do not believe that matters have changed significantly since the Commissioner's previous comments.

  Of course the subject matter of this draft Convention can be distinguished factually from other Third Pillar Conventions which either establish new bodies or specific information databases. Similarly, I accept that as a matter of fact European Union countries have data protection legislation in force. I cannot, however, be sure that it extends to protect all data that might be transferred under this draft Convention because there is no binding EU or Council of Europe requirement to apply the 1981 Data Protection Convention to all information.

  The Commissioner's criticisms remain first that information to be transferred under the draft Convention should be available for use only for the specific purpose for which it was transferred and exceptional public interest purposes but not for any Convention purpose whatsoever, and secondly the draft Convention should include a requirement for Member States receiving information under the Convention to apply to that information substantive data protection rules derived from the 1981 Council of Europe Convention or similar international instruments. Notwithstanding the different subject matter of those conventions, drafting precedents are readily to hand in the Europol, Schengen and Customs Information System Conventions.

17 March 2000

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