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A draft law further strengthening personal data protection has been pending before Parliament since March 2010.
The adoption by the EU of the new data protection regulation currently under consideration may render this draft law obsolete.
In addition to data permitting the identification of a person directly (name, photography, sex) or indirectly (date and place of birth, address, email address, social security number, etc.), the term also includes medical and genetic data and all of an individual’s biometric characteristics (digital prints, voice, iris, retina, etc.). There has been some discussion as to whether an IP address constitutes personal data.
IP addresses are regarded as personal data by all European data protection authorities. French courts have been divided on the issue, however (see Section IV, “Courts,” below).
The 1978 Law does not explicitly mention the privacy rights of minors.
France favors informing parents and children about responsible Internet use by way of major communication campaigns and education in school.
The Law also expressly excludes “cache” copies, described as temporary copies made in the context of technical operations of transmission and access provision to a digital network for the purpose of automatic, intermediate and transitory storage of data and with the sole aim of allowing other recipients of the service to benefit from the best access possible to the transmitted information. The 1978 Law applies to the processing of personal data where the data controller is established on French territory.
The data controller who carries out his activity on French territory within an establishment, whatever its legal form, is considered established on French territory. The Law also applies where the data controller, although not established on French territory or in any other Member State of the European Union, uses means of processing located on French territory, with the exception of processing used only for the purposes of transit through the territory or that of any other Member State of the European Union. In addition, the question of under what circumstances French law applies to the Internet where the data controller is not on French territory, but the personal data are posted online by an Internet user located in France has been raised in several cases.
It also has the power to impose administrative sanctions and fines.
Personal data must be collected and processed fairly and lawfully for specified, explicit, and legitimate purposes, and with the consent of the data subject.
In addition to the right to consent, data subjects have been given the following rights: right to be informed, right to object, right of access, right to correct and delete information, and right to be forgotten.
The articles include “Ten Recommendations on PC Security,” “The Duties of Bloggers,” “Targeted Marketing on the Internet,” “Search Engines and Privacy,” “Street View: CNIL Review,” “The Status of IP Addresses”, and “Social Networks.” The CNIL has also published a study on security regarding the latest generation of smartphones, providing ten recommendations on how to protect personal data, including one’s geographic position. Its recommendations include avoiding the recording of confidential information in a smartphone, choosing a complicated code, adding an automatic lock to the code, installing antivirus software, and turning off the GPS or Wi-Fi feature when not using a location-based application. In addition, the CNIL recently reissued guidance on cookies. The 1978 Law applies to the processing, automated or not, of personal data contained or intended to be part of a personal data filing system.
It applies to the processing of personal data (automated or not) from the private and public sectors carried out by a natural person or legal entity. Processing undertaken exclusively for private (personal or household) activities is excluded.