EU agencies join forces to protect European citizens’ data privacy rights

Two European Union agencies responsible for advising government agencies on fundamental rights have joined forces to help safeguard the data privacy rights of EU citizens, according to a report by Bloomberg BNA.

European Union Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) and the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) signed a memorandum of understanding to promote the sharing of information and working together on research projects.

The agreement between the two agencies makes sense considering their overlapping goals. The FRA provides “expert advice” to EU government institutions and EU countries to help protect the fundamental rights of citizens, while EDPS counsels EU government agencies on EU citizens’ fundamental right to privacy and data protection.

Both agencies, for example, have been working on different fundamental rights aspects of the EU Smart Borders Package, a series of measures intended to reinforce external border management.

FRA surveyed EU citizens about how three different biometric methods (fingerprints, iris scanning and facial recognition) affect fundamental rights including dignity, privacy, data protection, discrimination and right to information.

On the other hand, EDPS has scrutinized certain parts of the border plan and the potential consequences it will have on the fundamental rights of privacy and data protection.

“This is no empty gesture. It reflects not only the close and constructive relationship our two organisations have enjoyed since their inception over ten years ago,” Giovanni Buttarelli, the European Data Protection Supervisor, wrote on his blog.

The agencies will collaborate on “the use of encryption to safeguard private messages to the use of biometric identifiers in large scale migration databases to devising new digital ethics,” Buttarelli said.

The MOU states that each EU agency will create a single point of contact with the intention to consult “on a regulator basis”.

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