Today the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) issued another opinion on the threat to the protection of personal data and privacy. Namely, the proposal of the European Council to conclude the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) was negatively evaluated by the EDPS. We mentioned previously that the European Commission was considering referring ACTA to the CJEU and that there was lots of opposition towards introduction of this agreement. It seems that whichever institution takes a closer look at the content thereof, there is no problem with finding more and more problems within it.
The EDPS sees the lack of precision of ACTA about the measures that could be used in order to fight infringements of IP rights on the Internet as endangering the fundamental rights of EU citizens. Especially, the large scale monitoring of users' behaviour and of their e-communication is perceived as highly intrusive on the EU citizens' privacy, and its application should be limited to situations when it was really necessarily, which the proposal does not specify. Any measures that allow indiscriminate or widespread monitoring of Internet users' behaviour, and e-communications, with regard to trivial, small-scale, not for profit infringements should be seen as disproportionate - infringing Article 8 ECHR, Articles 7 and 8 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights, and Data Protection Directive. Additionally, the EDPS considers that ACTA provides for many voluntary enforcement cooperation measures that would entail a processing of personal data by ISPs, going beyond what is allowed under EU law. Another criticism is directed at the lack of sufficient safeguards in ACTA, e.g., as to due process, effective judicial protection, the principle of the presumption of innocence, the right to privacy and data protection.
"While more international cooperation is needed for the enforcement of IP rights, the means envisaged must not come at the expense of the fundamental rights of individuals. A right balance between the fight against IP infringements and the rights to privacy and data protection must be respected. It appears that ACTA has not been fully successful in this respect." stated the Assistant EDPS - Giovanni Buttarelli (ACTA measures to enforce IP rights in the digital environment could threaten privacy and data protection if not properly implemented)