On 21 May 2007, the European Parliament (EP) voted for the reinstallation of the data protection principles in the legislation that allows the police forces in Europe to share data.
The European Council, which is the one deciding in police and judicial matters, had formally asked the EP for its opinion on this issue as, lately, concern has been expressed on the lack of proper protection of personal data processed in the framework of police and judicial co-operation in criminal matters. Such a concern has been expressed also by the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS), Peter Hustinx who, at the end of May, advised the Council against adopting the Commission's new Council Framework Decision proposal as he considered the proposal did not provide appropriate data protection.
The MEPs, consulted by the German Presidency, voted in favour of amendments that would provide stronger data protection.
The German Presidency proposed that the legislation should only apply to data shared between European police forces and not to data held by national police forces and the decision of whether it should be applied nationally will be discussed in three years time by EC.
The proposal is that the police should not send data to other forces that do not have a proper level of data protection in place. The EP has reinstated an amendment that would prevent the police from sending data to third countries that don't have adequate data protection. If the amendment is voted by the Council, a national harmonisation of police data protection rules might be forced especially to strengthen the Europe's co-operation to face US data snooping programmes like PNR and Swift.
Germany's action might also allow new EP amendments that deal with the other concerns expressed by EDPS last month, to be accepted by the Council at its meeting this month.
Hopefully the European Council will take into consideration the MEPs' vote and will take decisions to allow data sharing between police forces in Europe only with the respect of civil liberties.
Europe votes to restrict police data sharing