Bonum Certa Men Certa

Specialists in Public International Law Bemoan Privacy Violations at the European Patent Office



Bretton Woods Law



Summary: Some privacy takeaways from the analysis of Bretton Woods Law (commissioned by EPO staff) and more examples of serious privacy violations inside the European Patent Office

PRIVACY is significantly eroded by authoritarian regimes for the purpose of crushing dissent and the European Patent Office (EPO) is no exception. Eponia is highly authoritarian and it even hired autocrats like Željko Topić for top positions. A lot of the illegal surveillance inside the EPO began or culminated around the time people were chatting about criminal charges against him (for sure a story worth telling one day).



A letter was sent to Heiko Maas, Federal Minister of Justice and Consumer Protection in Germany, just over a couple of months ago. "A SUEPO lawyer addressed Heiko Maas and informed him of the latest reforms and developments at the EPO," explained an insider. Suffice to say, Maas has done virtually nothing (he has a reputation for this in Germany), but let's assess the privacy violations based on another legal office. A few days ago we saw the following new comment in IP Kat:

The EU data protection Regulation does not apply everywhere in Europe. For example, the European Patent Organisation (EPO) has its own data protection Regulation.

The document “BREACHES OF BASIC AND FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS AT THE EPO” by Bretton Woods Law (Specialists in Public International Law) explains (from page 17 to 23) why the EPO data protection regulation fails to meet the standards of both EU data protection law and the national data protection laws of the Contracting States.

https://www.suepo.org/documents/43577/55400.pdf

Summary of deficiencies in the current EPO data protection framework:

- Fundamental rights: The reference to the respect of fundamental rights had been removed from the EPO data protection regulation (page 18).

- Lack of independent oversight: At the EPO there is no independent supervisory authority. The EPO president supervises himself the data processing he has implemented. (page 21)

- Change of purpose: The EPO data protection regulation allows the EPO President unilaterally to decide that data may be processed for purposes other than those for which they have been collected.(page 21)

- Transmission to recipients outside the European Patent Organisation: The EPO President may authorise a transfer or a set of transfers of personal data to a third country or international organisation which does not ensure an adequate level of protection.(page 21)

- Lack of any effective means of redress in circumstances where the rights of data subjects are infringed (see pages 22 and 23 - the intervention by the German data protection authorities).

Conclusion: A wide range of personal data from both patent applicants and EPO staff are processed at the EPO. The situation at the EPO falls far below the standards expected and the rights enjoyed by citizens in the rest of Europe.



The above reminded us of what the EPO does with Europatis -- a scandal which we covered here last year in the following articles:

  1. Jacques Michel (Former EPO VP1), Benoît Battistelli's EPO, and the Leak of Internal Staff Data to Michel's Private Venture
  2. Europatis: “Turnover of €211,800 and Zero Employees”
  3. Loose Data 'Protection' and Likely Privacy Infringements at the EPO: Here's Who Gets Employees' Internal Data
  4. Summary of the EPO-Europatis Series
  5. Revolving Doors of High-Level EPO Management: Jacques Michel and the Questel Deal With the EPO


Privacy violations are so serious inside the EPO that detailed accounts of mock trials or investigations are being 'leaked' by EPO management to the media, in order to essentially defame the accused (a judge in one case). One of the reasons for strong data protection around one's medical record is the potential for blackmail and discrimination. In light of this we're reminded of a document we saw several months ago (it's a letter to Mr. Topić actually). It spoke about the unacceptable state of medical data protection at the EPO (it would be totally unthinkable at the USPTO). Here is the complete text

European Patent Office | 80298 MUNICH | GERMANY

Mr Željko Topic Vice President DG4

R. 707

European Patent Office 80298 Munich Germany Central Staff Committee Comité central du personnel Zentraler Personalausschuss Tel. +49 -89- 2399 - 4355 +43 -1-52126 - 305 +49 -30-25901 - 800 +31 -70-340 - 2028 centralSTCOM@epo.org Reference: sc16075cl –0.3.1/4.3 Date: 14.04.2016

Nomination of Ms R. de Greiff as Director Health and Safety

Dear Mr Topic,

On 24 March 2016 you announced on the Intranet the appointment of Ms Raffaella de Greiff as new Director Health and Safety with effect from 1 April 2016, this after serving as ad interim Director of one of the two EPO medical departments since Dr Koopman retired almost two years ago.

Ms de Greiff has a degree in “industrial relations” but no medical qualification. A non-medical person can manage a medical unit, but normally only subject to certain strict requirements:

● medical confidentiality is respected; ● non-medically qualified managers do not have access to any medical information; ● medical files and H&S staff when handling such files remain under the direct supervision of medical doctors; ● medical doctors remain free to carry out their medical duties without interference from managers in medical issues.

So far, the Office has not introduced any such formal guarantees and safeguards.

We refer in particular to the Gazette of January 2016, page 20, which includes a diagram showing that the units that administer such medical files (“Medical advisory and general administration” and “Occupational health and safety”) are under the direct authority of the Health & Safety Director and not of the medical doctors (medical advisor or OH physician), who instead appear to enjoy a consultancy role. The whole Health & Safety department led by Ms de Greiff is in turn under the authority of Ms Bergot (PD Human Resources). This new structure is problematic in several respects.




Firstly, Ms de Greiff is neither bound to nor protected by the Hippocratic Oath. If Ms Bergot, as her superior, demanded access to information from the medical file of a staff member (be it a MAU or an OH file), then Ms de Greiff would not have the authority to refuse such an order; neither would she be able to intervene if PD43 were to obtain medical information by other means.

In other words, the strict confidentiality of staff medical files kept in the EPO can no longer be guaranteed.

Secondly, medical doctors are responsible for ensuring the confidentiality of any and all medical data in their possession. If it cannot be guaranteed that non-medical personnel will not have access to medical information, then medical ethics oblige the doctors not to enter or amend any staff data, collected either by themselves or by external doctors working for the EPO, in the EPO medical databases. If they did nonetheless, they would risk losing their medical license.

Under such circumstances, it is unclear how the EPO medical department is supposed to function properly.

Thirdly, we have already raised a number of questions concerning the MAU which to date have never been answered. With the new structure, similar concerns now also apply to the former Occupational Health Department.

We respectfully request you to acknowledge receipt of the above observations and take a position on them.

Yours sincerely, The Central Staff Committee cc.: Mr B. Battistelli; President of the EPO Ms Dr Bosch and Mr Dr Schüder Ms R. de Greiff Ms E. Bergot


This medical data protection letter, contained in the original PDF, has the signatures of many staff representatives, not just SUEPO representatives. This is an important letter regarding a serious problem which is widely known about (word of mouth and more). When will the EPO realise that this is totally unacceptable in the 21st century? In this particular case the abuse of privacy of staff cannot even be excused/justified using a war on unions/dissent/whistleblowers. It's just an authoritarian regime's dream.

Recent Techrights' Posts

The Persistent Nature of Freedom Isn't About Easy Routes
Resistance to oppression takes effort and sometimes money
Linux Months-Old News (LWN Uncorrected)
They could at least update the original
 
Links 21/06/2024: Overpopulation, Censorship, and Conflicts
Links for the day
IBM and Subsidiaries Sued for Ageism (Not Just for Racism)
This is already being discussed
UEFI is Against Computer Security, Its True Goal is to Curtail Adoption of GNU/Linux and BSDs on Existing or New PCs
the world is moving away from Windows
[Meme] Chat Control (EU) is All About Social Control
It won't even protect children
EFF Not Only Lobbies for TikTok (CPC) But for All Social Control Media, Irrespective of Known Harms as Explained by the US Government
The EFF's own "free speech" people reject free speech
Microsoft's Search (Bing) Fell From 3.3% to 1% in Turkey Just Since the LLM Hype Began
Bing fell sharply in many other countries
Over at Tux Machines...
GNU/Linux news for the past day
IRC Proceedings: Thursday, June 20, 2024
IRC logs for Thursday, June 20, 2024
The Real FSF Lost Well Over a Million Dollars Since the Defamation Attacks on Its Founder
2020-2023 income: -$659,756, -$349,927, -$227,857, and -$686,366, respectively
The Fake FSF ('FSF Europe') Connected to Novell Via SUSE, Not Just Via Microsoft (Repeated 'Donations')
'FSF Europe' is an imposter organisation
Just Less Than 3 Hours After Article on Debian Suicide Cluster Debian's Donald Norwood Recycles a Fortnight-Old 'Hit Piece'
The fall of Debian is its attack on its very own volunteers
IPFS censorship, Edward Brocklesby & Debian hacker expulsion
Reprinted with permission from disguised.work
Links 20/06/2024: Dumbphone Experience and Bad Encryption
Links for the day
Official Project Gemini news feed — Five years of Gemini!
the official statement
Ultimate Judgment: the Debian Suicide Cluster
Reprinted with permission from Daniel Pocock
Links 20/06/2024: Bruce Schneier Adds Moderation Policy, FUCKSHITUP Can't Be Trademarked in the US
Links for the day
Mass Layoffs Happening in IBM Subsidiaries, Almost No Media Exists Anymore (to Cover That)
They can drive people out with R.T.O. of lay off in small batches to prevent any media scrutiny
Links 20/06/2024: Trying to Maintain Health and the Implosion of LLM Bubble/Hype
Links for the day
Microsoft's Bing Share in Canada Has Only Decreased Since the LLM Hype ("Bing Chat")
According to statCounter
Gemini Links 20/06/2024: Golden Ticket and Looking for Web 1.0 Communities
Links for the day
Not Even TRYING to Compete With Microsoft
CMA (UK) ought to step in and investigate why Canonical (UK) refuses to even compete
Poul-Henning Kamp: Why Freedom in 'FOSS' Matters
Openwashing is more widely recognised as a growing problem
[Meme] EU Chat Control: The Problem is Too Much Privacy???
So what's with GDPR then? The EU is contradicting itself!
Lithuania: GNU/Linux Usage Climbs to Highest Level in Years
consistent abandonment of Microsoft
"Remarkably Little Had Changed."
Black or African American not even mentioned
This Week Fedora Celebrates Diversity, But It is Pushing Proprietary Software and Censorship
IBM openwashing, perception management, and reputation laundering gone awry?
Rumours That Nat Friedman (CEO) Was 'Fired' by GitHub/Microsoft
"Microsoft Refused to Fix Flaw Years Before SolarWinds Hack"
linuxsecurity.com: A Step in a Positive Direction
We hope that Guardian Digital and linuxsecurity.com will rectify the matter and persist with real articles
Links 20/06/2024: Somali Piracy Surges, Juneteenth Discussed
Links for the day
Gemini Links 20/06/2024: Gemini is 5 Today (Still No Gemlog Entry From its Founder)
Links for the day
Over at Tux Machines...
GNU/Linux news for the past day
IRC Proceedings: Wednesday, June 19, 2024
IRC logs for Wednesday, June 19, 2024
Morocco: GNU/Linux Surges From 0.1% to 4.21%
Microsoft has mass layoffs in Africa these days
EU 'Chat Control' Law is Already Discrediting the Stated Goals of GDPR
Equip kids with always-on always-connected microphones and double-sided cameras, just to be safe...
[Meme] EU Chat Control II
Stuff like "Chat Control" means that GDPR will lose credibility and the true motives be rightly scrutinised/questioned
You're Only Proving Our Point, Sir
clearly obsessed with what we write
Just Because It Happened Over 20 Years Ago Doesn't Mean It's "Old News" or Stopped Happening
This strategy merely evolved
Thanking Solderpunk for 5 Years of Gemini Protocol
Long live Gemini Protocol and long live Solderpunk!
[Meme] He Who Controls the Boot
And licks the Microsoft boot
[Meme] systemd-recovery
Imagine "Linux" (Poetterix) becoming so unreliable that it needs factory resets
Almost Every Day This Month the GNU/Linux "Market Share" Grows in statCounter
Advocates like to see progress
Dawg, I Herd You Like Freedom
In the context of Software Freedom, little is ever said about free speech
Links 19/06/2024: Microsoft Faces Big Backlash, Bytedance Referred to US Department of Justice
Links for the day
Gemini Protocol Turns 5 in 15 Hours
Geminispace is still very much alive
OSI's Blog is Still 100% "AI" Nonsense Sponsored by Microsoft (the Authors Are Also Salaried by Microsoft)
The founder of the OSI no longer supports the OSI
Poland is Another Country Where Bing Lost a Lot of Market Share Since the LLM Gimmicks
down from 3.24% to 2.4%
Jean-Pierre Giraud, Possible Forgeries & Debian: elections, judgments, trademark already canceled, archaeologist
Reprinted with permission from Daniel Pocock
It Took Microsoft More Than 3 Years to Get a Quarter of Windows Users to 'Upgrade' to Vista 11 (3 Out of 4 Windows Users Still Reject It)
That is exactly what's happening right now
[Meme] The Empire
Don't be like Putin
They Want 'Transparency' Only for the General Public (Every Bit of Communication Available to the Government, Usually Via Corporations)
The EU might decide to effectively ban SSH
Justices Jeremy Johnson and Victoria Sharp to Decide the Fate of Julian Assange in About Three Weeks
Will he be back home in Australia by year's end?
Free Software Won't Fix Equality, But It Helps
Let's examine Free software in the context of: 1) money. 2) justice.
Treating Them as Teammates, Not as Political Props, Trophies, or Objects
Most of the world's people are women
Links 19/06/2024: SFTP and Gopher Milestone
Links for the day
Over at Tux Machines...
GNU/Linux news for the past day
IRC Proceedings: Tuesday, June 18, 2024
IRC logs for Tuesday, June 18, 2024
US Surgeon General's Advice on Social Control Media (and "Smart" Phones) Seems Reasonable
People forget what the real world is about
Quiet at Planet Debian
planet.debian.org has not had any updates since 5 days ago
Belarus: Bing Fell From 1.1% to 0.6% Since Microsoft Started the LLM Hype (Yandex is 50 Times Bigger Than Bing)
Now enter Belarus
Morale at Microsoft Sinks to New Lows
The annual 'Employee Signals' survey showed a drop from 69% to 62% in positive responses