An assortment of different groups – from civil rights activists to direct marketers – have questioned the proposed changes to data protection legislation in the European Union (EU) that will allow managers to read employees' emails and monitor what they view on the Internet. Perhaps an unlikely source of criticism is Paul Clark, chief privacy and security officer at IT services company EDS. "EDS welcomes the recognition that privacy is a business as well as a legislative issue," Clark told a meeting of fellow privacy officers recently. "However, political bodies should not use the business community as its foot soldiers to impose their views on privacy standards on the rest of the world," he added.
Clark's main concern is how the European Commission will intervene in the construction of contractual privacy clauses, which will apply to how personal data is shared between organisations in different countries and different regions.
"Political interference in commercial contracts is unwarranted," he argues. Hopefully the Commission will welcome Clark's comments, having announced in late June 2002 that it was seeking the views of businesses and citizens on the way any changes to the EU Data Protection Directive would affect them.