The initiative is intended to balance anti-terrorist measures, such as the data retention proposal, which allows for unprecedented levels of information gathering and exchange among member states. The proportionality of the data retention proposals has been questioned by the European Data Protection Commissioner Peter Hustinx (see EurActiv 27 Sept).
It is a proposed framework decision on data protection that the Commission has presented (on 4 October 2005), which requires general agreement among member states, but no specific detail is laid down. There would be new rules on confidentiality, security of processing systems, judicial remedies and liability. Sanctions for breach of the rules are also proposed and an EU-level working party made up of member states supervisory bodies.
Personal data is only to be transferred to third countries in ‘very exceptional cases’. Nevertheless the EU on 3 October 2005 agreed to transfer air passenger information to Canada and has been giving such details to the United States for over a year. A legal case brought by the European Parliament against the EU/US passenger name records agreement is due to be heard at the Court of Justice on 18 October.