Opinion on the Communication from the Commission towards a European e-Justice Stragegy, OJ C 28, 06.06.2009, p. 13
The Communication aims to propose an e-Justice Strategy that intends to increase citizens' confidence in the European area of Justice. E-Justice's primary objective should be to help justice to be administered more effectively throughout Europe, for the benefit of the citizens. The EU's action should enable citizens to access information without being hindered by the linguistic, cultural and legal barriers stemming from the multiplicity of systems. A draft action plan and timetable for the various projects are annexed to the Communication.
E-Justice has a very wide-ranging scope, including in general the use of ICT in the administration of justice within the European Union. This covers a number of issues like projects providing litigants with information in a more effective way. This includes online information on judicial systems, legislation and case law, electronic communication systems linking litigants and the courts and the establishment of fully electronic procedures. It covers also European projects like the use of electronic tools to record hearings and projects involving information exchange or interconnection.
The EDPS supports the present proposal to establish e-Justice and recommends taking into account the observations made in his opinion, which includes:
- Taking into account the recent Framework decision on the protection of personal data in the field of police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters - including its shortcomings - not only when implementing the measures envisaged in the Communication, but also with a view to starting as soon as possible the reflections on further improvements of the legal framework for data protection in law enforcement;
- Including administrative procedures in e-Justice. As part of this new element, e-Justice projects should be initiated to enhance the visibility of data protection rules as well as national data protection authorities, in particular in relation to the kinds of data processed in the framework of e-Justice projects;
- Maintaining a preference for decentralized architectures;
- Ensuring that the interconnection and interoperability of systems duly takes into account the purpose limitation principle;
- Allocating clear responsibilities to all actors processing personal data within the envisaged systems and providing mechanisms of effective coordination between data protection authorities;
- Ensuring that processing of personal data for purposes other than those for which they were collected should respect the specific conditions laid down by the applicable data protection legislation;
- Clearly defining and circumscribing the use of automatic translations, so as to favour mutual understanding of criminal offences without affecting the quality of the information transmitted;
- Clarifying Commission responsibility for common infrastructures, such as the s-TESTA;
- With regard to the use of new technologies, ensuring that data protection issues are taken into account at the earliest possible stage ("privacy-by-design") as well as fostering technology tools allowing citizens to be in better control of their personal data even when they move between different Member States.