In the newsletter of October 2013, the CCBE published an article with the title “Protecting Profesional Secrecy in the Age of PRISM”, ending with the following:
The issue is complex and raises the question of how the CCBE should respond to such large-scale privacy violations. Professional secrecy is the core of our profession and that is indeed what the CCBE has focused on in our recent statement responding to these data mining-surveillance revelations. The CCBE IT Law Committee is currently working on a detailed framework providing an overview of the concrete risks for lawyers and possible future options. The existing legal framework (including the proposed legislative package on data protection) does not guarantee an adequate level of protection and any future legal solution must be supplemented with technological measures aimed at securing online infrastructure devices by closing backdoors, creating security schemes and promoting the notion of privacy by design, i.e., that privacy and data protection are embedded in technology from the development stage to their deployment, use and ultimate disposal. An upcoming CCBE study on governmental access to lawyers’ cloud data will review the existing legal regime in a number of EU Member States and offer suggestions for improvement.
The exposed PRISM programme is a wake-up call for data protection initiatives. Given PRISM’s farreaching implications, it is clear that mass electronic surveillance of citizens will remain a key priority on the CCBE’s agenda for the coming years.