French crime database breaches privacy rights, EU court rules

The human rights court objects to storing data for 20 years in a criminal database when charges were dropped

Storing someone's private information in a crime database for 20 years when charges against that person have been dropped violates privacy rights, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled Thursday.

The court ruled in a case brought by a French citizen, Francois Xavier Brunet, against the French government.

Brunet was listed in France's recorded crimes database, known as the STIC system, after his partner had filed a complaint against him with the public prosecutor following a violent argument, the court said. His partner later dropped her complaint, and Brunet filed a request with the prosecutor to delete his information from the database.

The public prosecutor however refused to delete the data, arguing that criminal proceedings against Brunet had been discontinued for reasons other than that there was no offense. Brunet was told he could not appeal this decision, with the result that his private information was set to be retained in the database for 20 years.

Under French law, the public prosecutor is only allowed to delete a personal record in a discontinued case if that decision had been justified by insufficient evidence, according to the EU court, and the prosecutor had applied the law strictly.

However, the public prosecutor did not have the power to assess the appropriateness of retaining such data, and since there was no option to appeal the decision, Brunet had not had a real opportunity to seek the deletion of his data, the court found. Moreover, the rules for storing records in the database as applied in Brunet's case did not strike a fair balance between the competing public and private interests at stake, the court ruled.

Therefore retaining his data "could be regarded as a disproportionate breach of Mr Brunets right to respect for his private life and was not necessary in a democratic society," the court ruled. It found this to violate Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights which protects the right to respect for private and family life, the court ruled.

France was ordered to pay Brunet €3,000 (about US$3,900) in damages.

Loek is Amsterdam Correspondent and covers online privacy, intellectual property, open-source and online payment issues for the IDG News Service. Follow him on Twitter at @loekessers or email tips and comments to loek_essers@idg.com

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags European Court of Human RightsCivil lawsuitslegal

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Loek Essers

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Crucial Ballistix Elite 32GB Kit (4 x 8GB) DDR4-3000 UDIMM

Learn more >

Gadgets & Things

Lexar® Professional 1000x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards

Learn more >

Family Friendly

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Plox Star Wars Death Star Levitating Bluetooth Speaker

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

GGG Evaluation Team

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Steph Mundell

LIFEBOOK UH574

The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.

Andrew Mitsi

STYLISTIC Q702

The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.

Simon Harriott

STYLISTIC Q702

My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?