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Friday, 22nd July 2011

Lubricating the flow of information in the EU

Source: Statewatch

The EU Information Management Strategy (IMS), is meant to include a strong data protection regime. However, while the first practical steps have been taken, fundamental rights are falling behind....

The first milestone in processing the action list was taken by the European Commission taking charge of priority action number one, the “information mapping project”. On 20 July 2010 Home Affairs Commissioner, Cecilia Malmström, presented the Communication entitled “Overview of information management in the area of freedom, security and justice”, the first comprehensive update of a report on third pillar information systems that was published in 2003.

From “Advance Passenger Information” to “Visa Information System (VIS)” the overview lists 19 existing “instruments”, (i.e. regulations for the implementation and operation of IT systems and cross-border information networks, for mandatory collection of data at the national level and for data transfer to third countries), . While some of these regulations and systems are in place and have been operating for many years, such as the Schengen Information System (SIS) or EURODAC, others have still not been fully implemented, such as the Prüm Decisions and the Data Retention Directive. In addition, the overview lists six projects which are currently under discussion: a European Passenger Name Record (PNR) System, an Entry-Exit-System for non-EU-citizens, a Registered Travellers System for fast biometric border controls for frequent flyers, an Electronic System of Travel Authorisation (ESTA) for accelerated immigration control of third-country nationals not subject to visa requirements, a European Terrorist Finance Tracking Programme (TFTP) and a European Police Record System (EPRIS).

The overview concludes by confirming the commitment to data protection, valuing in particular “privacy by design”, (i.e. technical data protection solutions and the need to justify new instruments adequately). The consideration of “sunset” clauses and mandatory evaluation for future instruments is also proposed. In addition, the Conclusion seeks “to draw on the input of all relevant stakeholders”, including “economic actors and civil society” when developing new initiatives and suggests that the nascent EU Agency for the Operational Management of Large-scale IT Systems, namely SIS, EURODAC and VIS, could facilitate such dialogues.

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Having begun his career in academic libraries, Adrian Janes has subsequently worked extensively in public libraries, chiefly in enquiry work as an Information Services librarian. In this role he has had particular responsibility for information from both the UK Government and the European Union. He wrote a detailed report on sources for the latter which was published by FreePint in 2007, and has contributed articles to FreePint and ResourceShelf. He is involved in training in information literacy and the use of online reference resources.

A Contributing Editor to DocuTicker, he also write reviews for Pennyblackmusic.

More articles by Adrian Janes »

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