Thursday, May 10, 2007

EDRI-Gram Number 5.9, 9 May 2007

The latest EDRI-gram has been published.

Notable stories include

"EDPS advises against new data protection framework decision

The European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) has shown serious concerns in his opinion on the Commission's new Council Framework Decision proposal regarding the protection of personal data processed in the framework of police and judicial co-operation in criminal matters.

Although appreciative of the German presidency's efforts, Peter Hustinx advised the Council against adopting the proposal considering it failed to provide appropriate data protection."


"PNR deal ratification postponed by the Czech Senate

The ratification by the Czech Parliament of the proposed agreement between the European Union and the Unites States of America on the processing and transfer of passenger name record (PNR) data has been taken off the agenda based on the position of the Green Party MPs.

On 23 April 2007, EDRI-member Iuridicum Remedium - Czech Republic sent a written appeal to the members of the Green Party parliamentary club, recommending them to vote against the ratification of the proposed agreement between the European Union and the Unites States of America on the processing and transfer of passenger name record (PNR) data for the following reasons:

The scope of the agreement submitted for approval as parliamentary paper no. 162 by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Transport has been (in comparison with the former agreement repealed by the European Court of Justice) "widened substantially (more data requested, considerable weakening if not complete elimination of the purpose limitation, sharing with more and unspecified agencies and countries, undefined retention periods, allowing for more frequent and earlier pushing of data, no guarantees for a definitive switch to the PUSH system, the virtual abolition of the joint evaluation) whereas the protection of personal data of EU citizens and means of legal redress are at best unclear, and probably weaker than under the previous agreement."

Further concerns were raised about the "precedent this agreement may set for future agreements with the US on PNR, or on other categories of data (such as bank account details as in the case of SWIFT, or records of telecommunications). The lack of democratic legitimacy regarding rules on the transfer of data must be remedied as a matter of urgency."

Moreover, the Department of Homeland Security has been using PNR data in the system called the Automated Targeting System, which violates both EU and US data protection laws. It uses passenger personal data for "risk assessment scoring" and retains the data for up to 40 years.

In January 2007, Privacy International and ACLU called for repeal of the EU-US agreement on data transfers on this basis.

Decision on the Agreement between the EU and USA passenger name record postponed by the Czech Senate (only in Czech, 25.04.2007)

EU original text of the PNR Agreement -submitted as parliamentary paper n.162 (27.10.2006)

EDRI-gram: Travellers privacy and European Union (30.07.2006)"


"Failure of the Scottish e-counting system

The electronic counting system used in the Scottish Parliamentary Elections on 3 May 2007 experienced problems as experts had warned and the Scotland Office announced an urgent investigation on the "serious technical failures" having delayed the announcement of results in several areas.

Several counts were delayed and about 140 000 votes (approx. 7% of the total votes cast) were not counted, probably due to confusing ballot design. Tabulation software problems also emerged in the e-counting system being used for the first time in Scotland.

The independent Electoral Commission, set up by the Parliament to monitor elections, had previously advised against running elections using two different voting systems on the same day. Nevertheless the Scottish Executive and Scottish Parliament chose to run the Scottish Parliamentary and Local Authority elections simultaneously on 3 May, potentially leading to further voter confusion.

In England some areas piloted early voting in person up to two weeks in advance, internet voting, touch-phone telephone voting or e- counting. Scotland only trialled e-counting.

In spite of assurances by government that the systems had been tested in advance (though no certification process was used), problems with the automatic counting system occurred caused the suspension of counting in several Scottish areas for some time. In England most of the e-counting pilots also experienced delays and e- voting pilots also encountered technical difficulties."

DRS Data Services, which supplied the electronic counting machines, stated to BBC that the delays had been caused by a "small issue" that their technical staff was doing efforts to solve. "The e-counting system has not crashed. This is a temporary interruption to one small aspect of the overall process," said the company spokeswomen.

However, the system was described as a fiasco by the thirty experts from North America invited to witness the new electronic voting system.

Robert Richie, executive director of US-based organisation Fair Vote, considered as "totally unacceptable to have so many votes spoiled" and stated: "We were also very concerned about the lack of uniform standards in judging what votes were rejected and which were deemed to be valid".

The Electoral Commission will perform an extended statutory review into the election. The Scotland Office spokesman said: "It is important that they look as a matter of urgency into delays in postal ballots, the high number of spoiled ballot papers, and the performance of the electronic counting machines."

E-voting policy review after Scottish ballot chaos (4.05.2007)

Inquiry launched into Scottish voting confusion (4.05.2007)

International experts slam ballot fiasco (6.05.2007),,2073641,00.html

Security fear over internet voting (2.05.2007),,2070296,00.html

Vote early, vote often (1.05.2007)"

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