IRIS info - débats / communiqués

French Data Protection Act Revision:
the Accomplished Regression

DELIS, LDH and IRIS joint Communique - July 16, 2004
French (original) version

By voting identically to the National Assembly, the French Senate has allowed without surprise the final adoption on July 15, 2004, of the draft law on the protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data. This law revises the French Data Protection Act of January 6, 1978, and transposes the European Directive of 1995.

The some forty NGOs and trade-unions members of the French DELIS ("Droits et libertés face ŕ l'informatisation de la société") coalition, among them the French Human Rights League ("Ligue des droits de l'homme", or LDH) and IRIS ("Imaginons un réseau Internet solidaire"), have been mobilizing as soon as they have had knowledge of the pre-draft law in September 2000, in order to alert the opinion, the CNIL ("Commission nationale de l'informatique et des libertés", the French Data Protection Authority), the CNCDH ("Commission nationale consultative des droits de l'homme", the National Human Rights Consultative Commission), the governement and the Parliament, on the dangers of a severe reduction of the protection of citizens against the collection, the processings and the use of their personal data.

These dangers did nothing but increase with the evolution of the draft law, through its successive readings by the two French parliamentary assemblies: first reading by the National Assembly on January 30, 2002 (rapporteur: Gerard Gouzes, then vice-president of the CNIL), first reading by the Senate on April 1, 2003 (rapporteur: Alex Türk, then vice-president of the CNIL), second reading by the National Assembly on April 29, 2004 (rapporteur: Francis Delattre, member of the CNIL), second reading by the Senate on July 15, 2004 (rapporteur: Alex Türk, elected meanwhile president of the CNIL).

At each step, the DELIS coalition submitted to the CNIL, to the rapporteurs and to the members of Parliament of all the political groups, its precise criticisms to the text and its argumented proposals for amendments. DELIS deplores that starting from the first reading by the Senate, its representatives never received answer, be it from the rapporteurs or from the CNIL, and that only the members of parliamentary opposition agreed to receive them and to submit amendment proposals allowing for a better guarantee for the respect of individual freedoms and the right to privacy.

Many aspects of the adopted text constitute a regression of the protection of citizens ensured so far by the Data Protection Act of 1978, and not all of them are a consequence of transposing the European Directive of 1995. DELIS underlines in particular: the absence of inclusion in the list of sensitive data of genetic and biometric data; the reduction of the preliminary control of the CNIL on sovereignty files; the file declaration exemption for private companies having appointed a "data correspondent", without ensuring this correspondent with a protected status, necessary to its independence with respect to his/her employer; introduction of the right to set up true private police records, by private entities victims of infringement, in order to fight against and to even prevent these infringements, limiting de facto the exercize of the rights of access and of rectification of the filed persons; when these private entities are authors, performers, phonogram and videogram producers royalty collection organizations, explicitly mentioned in the adopted text, this right to create what one cannot consider as nothing but files of suspects does not suffer any limit anymore.

Logically following its vote against this text, the parliamentary opposition would submit the adopted law to the French Constitutional Council. If the Council Decision does not allow to restore the level of protection enjoyed by French citizens before the adoption of this law, the DELIS coalition, the LDH and IRIS reserve themselves the possibility of filing a complaint with the European Commission, in order to have it carried by the Commission before the Court of Justice of the European Communities, against France for infringement of the Community legislation.

More details available in DELIS dossier with all the produced documents (in French):

See also EDRI-gram newsletter, Number 2.8, 21 April 2004 (in English):

- DELIS (Pierre Suesser): -
- LDH (Michel Tubiana, Alain Weber): -
- IRIS (Meryem Marzouki): -

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