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06.15.15

Translation of Süddeutsche Zeitung Article Calling for External Oversight of Data Protection at the EPO

Posted in Europe, Patents at 11:25 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Another important article from an important media outlet, talking about the European Patent Office’s privacy violations

THIS newly-added PDF has the original in German and an English translation. We remarked on this article a few days ago, right after it had been published. Here it is in English:

10th June 2015

European Patent Office

Call for external oversight of data protection

Thomas Petri, 45, supervised the processing of sensitive data in Schleswig-Holstein and in Berlin before taking up his position as Data Protection Commissioner in Bavaria. (Foto: picture alliance / dpa)

- Thomas Petri, the Bavarian Data Protection Commissioner wants to have an external data protection supervisor deployed at the European Patent Office.

- It has become a matter of public knowledge that publicly accessible computers at the EPO were placed under observation using surveillance technology after the receipt of letters containing [allegedly] defamatory remarks against the Management.

The Bavarian Data Protection Commissioner Thomas Petri has called for an external data protection supervisor for the European Patent Office (EPO). On Tuesday the SZ reported that surveillance technology capable of intercepting keystrokes and generating screen-shots had been installed on publicly accessible computers over a period of several weeks. The internal investigation unit at EPO headquarters in Erhardtstrasse was using these techniques in an attempt to track down the writer(s) of [allegedly] defamatory letters.

Data Protection Commissioner Petri previously investigated the data protection arrangements at the EPO in the Spring of 2014 following a complaint and he came to the conclusion that they were deficient. “It emerged that nobody was really in charge”, Petri told the SZ. The internal supervisors were not sufficiently independent. As a result, Petri contacted the Federal Data Protection Commissioner last year and the latter wants to take corrective action via the Council of the European Union.

However, the data protection authorities are confronted with a problem: the European Patent Office is a supra-national organisation which is “a law unto itself”. The foundation of its legal order is the European Patent Convention. “The contracting states must take measures to supplement the European Patent Convention as a matter of urgency”, says Petri who believes that his previous reservations have now been confirmed by the latest revelations. He does not consider that external oversight [in relation to data protection] would impair the EPO’s ability to perform its normal functional tasks. “In the absence of such oversight, as experience shows, matters are liable get out of hand.”

URL: http://www.sueddeutsche.de/muenchen/europaeisches-patentamt-forderung-nach-externem-
datenschuetzer-1.2513289

Copyright: Süddeutsche Zeitung Digitale Medien GmbH / Süddeutsche Zeitung GmbH

We expect a lot more media coverage to come.

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