[IRP] EP reconsiders privacy : Security and fundamental freedoms on the Internet

Rudi Vansnick rudi.vansnick
Thu Mar 26 20:00:53 EET 2009

  Security and fundamental freedoms on the Internet

Fundamental rights - 26-03-2009 - 13:2

Increasingly, companies, governments, police and even criminals are 
seeking the greatest possible access to our private data. The internet 
provides a previously unimaginable level of access to information about 
our private lives, which unfortunately, can be abused by companies, 
intelligence services or even identity thieves. The report highlights 
action against cybercriminals whilst also guaranteeing fundamental 
rights to privacy for internet users.

The report adopted with 481 votes in favour, 25 against and 21 
abstentions is the first recommendation from MEPs concerning the fight 
against cybercrime and preserving the rights of internet users.  Clearly 
the internet can be used as an excellent tool for accessing information 
and allowing connections between individuals and communities all over 
the world.  However, it also has its dangers as it can expose users to 
surveillance, or even serve as a tool for criminals or terrorists.  The 
main advantage and disadvantage of the internet is that it transcends 
almost all borders.
*Criminalist grooming *
Parliament urges Member States to update legislation to protect children 
using the Internet, in particular in order to criminalise grooming 
(online solicitation of children for sexual purposes), as defined in the 
Council of Europe Convention of 25 October 2007 on the Protection of 
Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse.
MEPs are also concerned with the idea that "e-illiteracy will be the new 
illiteracy of the 21st Century."  The report argues that in this age, 
having access to the internet is "equivalent to ensuring that all 
citizens have access to schooling", and that this access should not be 
denied by governments or private companies.
*Fundamental freedoms of internet users*
There are a number of fundamental rights which are affected by the 
internet, including "respect for private life?data protection?freedom of 
speech and association, freedom of press, political expression and 
participation, non-discrimination and education."  The report calls on 
Member States to protect these rights by making use of existing 
national, regional, and international law, and to exchange best 
practices amongst themselves.
The report recognises that given "the global and open nature of the 
Internet", international standards for data protection, security and 
freedom of speech are required.  MEPs call on Member States and the 
Commission to draw up a series of regulations to protect the privacy of 
internet users.
*Crime, identity theft and terrorism*
The nature of the internet also means that it is open to abuse.  It has 
"been used as a platform for violent messages?as well as for websites 
which can specifically incite hate-based criminal acts."  Cybercrime, in 
general has also increased, and internet users are at risk of identity 
theft, if they transmit their personal details across the internet 
without a minimum level of protection.  Therefore, the House calls on 
the Council and Commission to develop a "comprehensive strategy to 
combat cybercrime?identity theft and fraud."
Finally, the report raises the question of consent of internet users, 
when giving personal information to governments or private companies, 
and the imbalance of negotiating power between users and institutions.  
In relation to this, MEPs stress the importance of internet users being 
able to retain the right to permanently delete any of their personal 
details saved on "internet websites or on any third party data storage 

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