First European privacy seal awarded

EuroPriSe today awards the first European Privacy Seal for ICT products and IT-based services. The seal guarantees compliance with the demanding EU laws and regulations on data security and privacy.

One of the main problems of today’s information society is a lack of trust caused by the possibilities of electronic surveillance. To protect consumers and businesses against such mistrust, they need to know how to choose a product that protects their privacy. This is where EuroPriSe comes in.

EuroPriSe is funded by the European Commission’s eTEN programme with 1.2 million Euro and implemented by a consortium of nine organisations under the leadership of the Independent Centre for Privacy Protection Schleswig-Holstein (ULD). Under the scheme, IT products and IT-based services are audited in order to see if they can be certified as compliant with European regulations on privacy and data security. It uses a two-step procedure: first, an evaluation of the product or service by accepted legal and IT experts, followed by a cross-checking of the evaluation report by an accredited certification body.

The first EuroPriSe seal was presented this morning by the European Data Protection Supervisor Peter Hustinx to Ixquick, a European meta-search engine. Ixquick is a meta-search engine which forwards search requests of its users to several search engines, gathers and combines their results and presents the results to the requesting users. Privacy is ensured by using several data-minimization techniques: personal data like IP addresses are deleted within 48 hours, after which they are no longer needed to prevent possible abuse of the servers. The remaining (non-personal) data are deleted within 14 days. Ixquick serves as a proxy, i.e. IP addresses of users are not disclosed to other search engines.

Developed in close co-operation with privacy and data protection authorities in Europe, the Privacy Seal is expected to become an important instrument both on the European and international level fostering data protection and privacy.