Data Privacy should be a human right, says EU

Electronic communications should be more secure in Europe, not less, according to a report from the European Union Agency for Network and Information Security (ENISA).

“Privacy and data protection constitute core values of individuals and of democratic societies,” the report states.

“This has been acknowledged by the European Convention on Human Rights and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that enshrine privacy as a fundamental right,” it adds.

Internet Encryption

According to the ENISA report, in order to protect these rights in the modern world, where increasing amounts of communication is carried out through electronic means, there needs to be greater use of privacy-enhanced technologies (PETs), such as encryption, protocols for anonymous communications, attribute based credentials and private search of databases.

However, with the exception of encryption, their use has been somewhat limited.

The agency said in its report that a greater variety of these methods should be introduced at the point of design, a concept known as “privacy by design” or “data protection by design”.

It added that more needs to be done from a legislative point of view within the EU to set out “its concrete implementation” and develop new incentive mechanisms to promote inclusion of PETs in communications and data storage systems.

The report also claims there needs to be “a move away from the narrative of ‘balance’ between privacy and security”.

“The motivation to implement privacy and data protection measures needs to move from fear-based arguments; privacy protection needs to be seen rather as an asset than a cost factor,” it adds.

EU and Cameron at odds… again

David Cameron

This report once again puts the EU and David Cameron at opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to privacy and human rights legislation.

Following the attacks on Charlie Hebdo on 7 January and on a Kosher supermarket two days later, the Prime Minister called for an end to encrypted messaging services such as WhatsApp and iMessage within the borders of the UK in order to combat terrorism.

“I think we cannot allow modern forms of communication to be exempt from the ability, in extremis, with a warrant signed by the Home Secretary, to be exempt from being listened to,” said Cameron.

“That is my very clear view and if I am Prime Minister after the next election I will make sure we legislate accordingly,” he added.

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