Government Technology

Europe Marks Data Protection Day

January 28, 2008 By

Photo: European Commission Vice President Franco Frattini

Franco Frattini, vice-president of the European Commission, today addressed the related subjects of data protection and data sharing.

"The 28th of January 2008 marks the second European Data Protection Day," said Frattini, who is responsible for justice, freedom and security. "An occasion where we once again acknowledge and highlight the importance to citizens of protection of their privacy, including, in particular, their personal data. The Internet, travel arrangements, health treatment, credit cards -- the protection of personal data is important on every step of our daily lives. Each year advances in technology allow for increases in data sharing, which can assist in improving the lives of citizens including enhancing their security. In line with this, it is our resolve to ensure the sharing of data is harnessed in conformity with rules and laws laid down to ensure respect for the confidence of personal data. We therefore take this opportunity to highlight to all data handlers, data controllers and data providers the importance to all of us of data protection."

Frattini said that following the inaugural data protection day last year, the EU began a survey of citizen views on the subject. "The very preliminary results indicate that just over a half of people interviewed (52 percent) considered that personal data in their country was properly protected while the majority of respondents (82 percent) thought that the level of people's awareness about personal data protection in their country was low."

Other results included:

  • Almost 75 percent of respondents said they were worried about leaving personal information on the Internet.
  • More than 50 percent of respondents said they trusted medical services and doctors, insurance companies, banks and financial institutions, employers, police, social security, tax authorities and local authorities when handling data.
  • More than 50 percent of respondents said they trusted market and opinion research companies, non-profit organisations, mail order companies, credit reference agencies, credit card agencies and travel companies.
  • Almost 75 percent of those questioned agreed to monitoring of telephone calls in certain circumstances or on certain conditions.
  • As far as credit card use is concerned, almost 70 percent agreed with monitoring in certain circumstances or on certain conditions.
  • Only 15 percent of respondents were against the monitoring of air traveller data in all cases.

"We will ensure these comments inform the work we are doing in this area this year," said Frattini. "It will also be a salutary lesson for all stakeholders involved in handling personal data and maintaining data protection."

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