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Centre for Intellectual Property and Information Law

Monday, 10 August 2020

Image symbolising electronic privacy in the EU

Although approximately half the world now has data protection laws, Europe continues to be a crucial trend-setter in this area and in the associated one of electronic privacy.  Indeed, the European Union is a dominant policy actor within this space and the Council of Europe also continues to play an important role including through sponsoring the Data Protection Convention which remains the only legally binding data protection instrument open to States worldwide.  Also importantly, Europe was the cradle of data protection and has a rich history in this area dating back over five decades.

With a view to facilitating both comparative and historical work, CIPIL’s Dr David Erdos has been compiling comprehensive resources in this area.  The first stage of this was the launch in April of a database of both contemporary and historical national laws across the European Economic Area (EEA), the UK and Switzerland.  This database has now been complemented by a transnational resource page which seeks bring together documents relating to pan-European initiatives in data protection from the 1970s through to the present day.  This page complements resources which are already available including from the Council of Europe, European Data Protection Board, Article 29 Working Party digital archives and both the both the Council of the EU and European Parliament online Public Registers.  It also builds on CIPIL’s database of European travaux in intellectual property and information law which is also continuing to be developed.

In relation to the Council of Europe, the resource page makes readily available copies of the seminal Privacy and Electronic Databanks Resolutions and Explanatory Reports of from 1973 and 1974 as well as otherwise difficult to access Recommendations from the 1980s (both current and superseded) including as this relates to medical data banks, employment and scientific research and statistics.  Turning to the European Union, early resolutions from the European Parliament from 1979 and 1982 as well as the European Commission’s Recommendation of 1981 are provided.  The page additionally links to the travaux of the Data Protection Directive 95/46/EC including a detailed article-by-article index which is already hosted on the CIPIL site.  Interinstitutional “COD” references are specified for the core data protection and e-privacy instruments agreed since the 2000s, thereby enabling ready searching for archival documents with in the Council of the EU and European Parliament online Public Registers.  The resource also links to CIPIL’s new pages for the travaux of the Personal Data and Privacy in Telecommunications Directive 97/66/EC.  This instrument formed the backbone to the Directive on Privacy and Electronic Communications 2002/58/EC and the article-by-article index, which has been put together by Stefanie Felsberger, includes cross-references to the cognate article in this current Directive.

European data protection and electronic privacy are always on the move and CIPIL will likewise be continuing to develop its resources in this area throughout the rest of 2020.