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EC Concerned Over Intelligent Transport Data

Using drivers’ GPS data and other sources could throw up privacy issues, warns European information privacy regulator

The European Data Protection Supervisor has warned that diverse data protection rules across Europe could introduce problems when it comes to regulating the information associated with so-called intelligent transport systems (ITS).

In a statement this week, EDPS Peter Hustinx (pictured below) said that although the European Commission has considered data protection as part of its plan to support the deployment of intelligent transport systems (ITS) in Europe, some of the considerations of the authority are “too broad and too general”.

In particular, Hustinx expressed concern over how much personal data from consumers would be involved in ITS deployments – such as monitoring traffic flow of cars via GPS systems for example – and who would manage data protection compliance in the various countries the technology could be deployed in.

“There is a risk that the lack of clarity of the proposed legal framework will create diversity in the implementation of intelligent transport systems and will lead to considerable uncertainty, fragmentation and inconsistencies, due to different levels of data protection in Europe,” he said. “Further harmonisation of data protection issues at EU level is needed so that the many benefits offered by those systems are not hampered by a lack of compliance with essential safeguards for data protection.”

The EDPS defines ITS as “information and communication technologies (satellite, computer, telephone, etc.)” which are applied to “transport infrastructure and vehicles with the intention to make transport safer and cleaner and to reduce traffic congestion”.

According to Hustix, the roll-out of ITS technologies should be underpinned by thorough approaches to data protection and security. “Appropriate safeguards should be implemented by data controllers providing ITS services so that the use of location technologies is not intrusive from a privacy viewpoint,” the EDPS stated.

This week the UK government announced that it would be investigating the potential of ITS technology as part of the remit of a new European Space Agency facility opened in Oxfordshire.

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