EU data watchdog slams planned database of alleged IP infringers

The Commission must explain who will be running a proposed database of personal info

The European Union's data watchdog has attacked plans for a new Europe-wide database of alleged intellectual property infringers.

In May the European Commission referred a proposal concerning customs enforcement of intellectual property rights to the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS). A statement signed by EDPS Assistant Supervisor Giovanni Buttarelli strongly condemned plans to set up a central database that would hold personal information related to allegations of copyright infringement.

As yet there is no legal standing for such a database, which the EDPS described as "very worrying."

"Personal data of individuals (names, addresses and other contact details as well as related information on suspected offences) will be the object of an intense exchange between the Commission and the member states and will be stored for an undefined period of time within the database, yet there is no legal text on the basis of which an individual could verify the legality of such processing," according to the EDPS.

The EDPS then called on the Commission to explain who will have access to the database, who will be managing it, how long will data be stored for and how such data will be processed. Implementing measures should also specify "in detail" the functional and technical characteristics of the database.

The EDPS wants to see a provision in the proposal limiting the retention period of personal data. "Any extension of the duration of the retention date should be avoided or, if justified, should fulfill the principles of necessity and proportionality," according to the EDPS. Suspected infringers should also be told which authorities are holding their personal data and why, the EDPS said.

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