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Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Public access and privacy usually compatible

Public access to documents and data protection, European Data Protection Supervisor, July 2005. Excerpt:
This paper is on the relationship between public access to documents on the one hand and privacy, integrity and data protection on the other hand. It reflects the opinion of the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) on this matter. Public access to documents as well as privacy, integrity and data protection have been recognized as fundamental rights. Citizens of the European Union, nationals of third countries residing on the territory of a Member State and, in some cases, other nationals of third countries, are entitled to enjoy both rights....One should keep in mind that there is no hierarchical order between the two rights. Most often, as has been shown in statistics regarding the implementation of the public access regulation, there is no tension between the rights, even not in situations when both rights can be invoked at the same time. However, in some cases the rights may collide, as the objective of the rules on public access is to foster access to all documents under the jurisdiction of the EU-institutions and bodies, whereas the data protection regulation must guarantee the protection of personal data....The aim of this paper is threefold. Firstly, it is to show that public access to documents and data protection shall not be seen as contrary, but complementary, to each other. Secondly, it is to identify areas of tension. Thirdly, it is to promote good practice within the institutions and bodies of the EU.