Monday, December 29, 2008

ECJ's Judgment

Having had a short break from blogging (with teaching and marking to do), this ECJ's judgment in Tietosuojavaltuutettu v Satakunnan Markkinapörssi Oy (C-73/07) on the interpretation of Art. 9 of the Data Protection Directive 95/46/EC is worth noting, though it does not resolve the difficulty of the continuing interface between data protection and the journalistic, literary and artistic exemption (as provided under Art. 9) in the context of Data Protection Directive 95/46/EC. Out-Law provides a brief summary:

A company that sends text messages revealing the income of Finland's wealthiest citizens is subject to European data protection laws but could be protected by an exemption for journalism, according to a ruling by the European Court of Justice (ECJ). The processing of personal data made available by Finnish tax authorities may be the subject of a derogation from the EU's data protection regime if it is carried out solely for journalistic purposes, the ECJ ruled. Unlike in the UK, details of taxes paid by individuals in Finland are made publicly available. For several years, a company called Markkinapörssi has collected public data from the Finnish tax authorities for the purposes of publishing extracts from those data in the regional editions of the newspaper Veropörrsi each year...In its judgment ..., the ECJ ruled that the activities of Markkinapörssi and Satamedia "must be considered as the 'processing of personal data' within the meaning of [the Data Protection Directive]" – even though the files of the public authorities that are used comprise only information that has already been published in the media.
On the issue of Art. 9, the ECJ provides that:

54 Article 9 of the directive refers to such a reconciliation. As is apparent, in particular, from recital 37 in the preamble to the directive, the object of Article 9 is to reconcile two fundamental rights: the protection of privacy and freedom of expression. The obligation to do so lies on the Member States.

55 In order to reconcile those two ‘fundamental rights’ for the purposes of the directive, the Member States are required to provide for a number of derogations or limitations in relation to the protection of data and, therefore, in relation to the fundamental right to privacy, specified in Chapters II, IV and VI of the directive. Those derogations must be made solely for journalistic purposes or the purpose of artistic or literary expression, which fall within the scope of the fundamental right to freedom of expression, in so far as it is apparent that they are necessary in order to reconcile the right to privacy with the rules governing freedom of expression.

56 In order to take account of the importance of the right to freedom of expression in every democratic society, it is necessary, first, to interpret notions relating to that freedom, such as journalism, broadly. Secondly, and in order to achieve a balance between the two fundamental rights, the protection of the fundamental right to privacy requires that the derogations and limitations in relation to the protection of data provided for in the chapters of the directive referred to above must apply only in so far as is strictly necessary.
EU law blog, Lex Ferenda also gives their analysis on this case.


Just a reminder re: forthcoming data protection events taking place over the course of this month:

1) Computers, Privacy and Data Protection Conference: Data Protection in a Profiled world, 16-17 January 2009, Brussels.

2) E-Discovery Webinar: Data Protection, corporate investigations and e-discovery: insurmountable conflicts?, 15th January 2009, more details available at

Thursday, December 04, 2008

ECtHR ruling in Marper

Whilst busying away with marking, this recent judgment from the ECtHR (via International Herald Tribune) on the retention of DNA:

BRUSSELS, Belgium: Europe's top human rights court says British police should not be allowed to retain DNA profiles and fingerprints of people suspected but not convicted of crimes. The European Court of Human Rights says in a ruling Thursday that Britain was violating the suspects' right to a private life by retaining information on their DNA and fingerprints. The court based in Strasbourg, France, has ordered British authorities to pay €42,000 US$53,000) to two people who brought the complaint.
Source: International Herald Tribune, 4 December 2008
Update: ECtHR Judgement is available here.

CFP on Privacy Symposium

(via Surveillance network)


Institutions, Markets Technology Institute for Advanced Studies (IMT), Lucca (Italy), in collaboration with International Comparative Policy Analysis-Forum & Journal of Comparative Policy Analysis


Abstract deadline (500 words): January 18, 2009 Submission of Abstract to Workshop Convenor and Guest Special Issue Editor: Professor Bruno Dente, Professor of Public Policy Analysis, Politecnico di Milano and IMT &

Notification of accepted proposals: February 8, 2009 Draft paper deadline: June 15, 2009

Workshop Date and Accepted Paper Presentation: July 2-4,2009

Invitation:This EU based Comparative Research Symposium will be the first among a series of international Research Symposia enhancing a comparative exchange on policy research. It will focus on data protection (privacy policy) that has garnered growing attention in many countries in recent years. The evolution of public policy around this issue has been affected in unpredictable ways by the latitude of the issue, as well as by the changes in the social and technological environment. For instance, despite the fact that in the EU privacy regulation stems from official legislation, the member states have implemented different approaches, developing peculiar instruments and building very different institutions.The basic aim of the workshop is to understand the evolution of the policy in different countries, and if these transformations stem from exogenous factors (e.g., technological advances, the war on terrorism, and others) or endogenous factors (e.g., processes of institutionalization or bureaucratization, heterogenesis of ends, policy failures, and others).Our definition of privacy policy is rather broad and includes the content of the protected goods, the policy instruments employed, the organizational dimension of the authorities in charge, and so on.

Submission of Papers: Proposed papers should (a) relate to research on any one of the aspects above, or propose additional research angles,(b) focus on the incremental or radical changes that the policy has undergone, (c) shed light on policy problems and policy related dynamics and interventions, (d) present research on aspects of the different national approaches or cases from which comparative lessons can be drawn.The workshop is interdisciplinary in nature, and therefore perspectives related to all fields of social science (including political science, economics, law, policy analysis, sociology, etc.) will be accepted.The criteria for selection are quality and fit to the subject matter. The articles submitted must be in line with the mission statement of the JCPA and ICPA-Forum of fostering the theory, empirical research and methods of cross-national comparative policy analysis. Please note the Aims and Scope of the JCPA and explicit comparative criteria at While papers need not necessarily present comparisons among countries, they must explicitly lend themselves to lesson drawing.Papers accepted and presented at the workshop may be published in a Special Issue of the JCPA edited by Professor Bruno Dente, subject to fit in the Special Issue and the blind-fold referee procedures of the JCPA.Location and Organization: The convenors of the workshop will cover the travel and accommodation costs of the selected participants. Lucca is a beautiful historical city located 25 km from Pisa international airport. IMT is a post-graduate University offering PhD Programs in the fiend of Political Systems and Institutional Change, Bio-robotics, Science & Engineering, Computer Science & Engineering, Economics, Markets, Institutions & Technology, and Management of Cultural Heritage. The Workshop will be co-sponsored by IMT, Politecnico di Milano, ICPA-Forum and Routledge.