The European Council is adopting tougher rules on how the police and judiciary treat, and share, people's private data.
Member states have two years to adopt the framework decision. The change is needed because of the increasing amount of information which is shared across borders between police forces and other parts of the judiciary. The UK famously got into trouble when it lost DNA records provided by Dutch authorities.
Jacques Barrot, EU Commissioner for Justice, Freedom and Security, said: "We need to ensure that our police forces and judges get the necessary and relevant information to do their job properly. However, this should be done in a manner which respects our citizens' right to protection of their personal data."
Rules also govern how information can be passed on to countries outside the EU.
Individual countries must make sure that information is properly protected. Rules on cross border exchanges cover informing people what access they should have to their own data, compensation for data which is lost and limits on the use of sensitive data.
Barrot got an opportunistic reference to the latest terrorist outrage, saying that "In the context of the terrible events in Mumbai, it is even more important for Europe to show that we can act together in an area which lies so close to the heart and interest of our citizens." Mumbai is in India, and India has blamed the attack on operating from its neighbour Pakistan. Neither Pakistan or India are in Europe.®