Many tech experts are surprised by a unique piece of legislature from the Council of Europe, which enumerates on internet privacy’s new status as a human right. With the advent of the Information Age, and the proliferation of so many new technologies, Europe’s stance on this subject is unique and interesting – and perhaps it will transpose to the corporate sector in Europe. Will this make document manage systems and similar technologies more attractive to an economically stagnant Europe? Let’s dig deeper into this issue.


To Clarify What the Legislature Does and Doesn’t Say

Europe’s top civil liberties body has issued a Mass Surveillance Report that declares online privacy is a human right. It goes several steps further and challenges the British government’s plans that include introducing even more surveillance on communications technology.

The parliamentary assembly of the Council of Europe issued their own privacy rights report with the message that they are deeply concerned about surveillance in both the United States and the United Kingdom. They say government powers are being used to store, monitor, and analyze communication data of private citizens. These allegations all started with the information released by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

A close read of the report shows that it further goes on to say that the government is collecting the content of online data, plus location and metadata. It shows that the measures are massive, and that they are by and large being taken against people who are not under suspicion of wrongdoing.

Even more concerning, the report shows that there is concern that some intelligence agencies are not just using back doors and similar weaknesses in security standards, but are actually creating them. While it’s bad enough that this can lead to the government accessing information they don’t have a legal right to access, it gets worse: it can be exploited by terrorists, cyberterrorists, and other criminal agencies.

The European Convention on Human Rights is clear about privacy, a right to a fair trial, and freedom of expression, and increased surveillance would contradict clauses that pertain to these issues.


What is the Council of Europe?

Made up of 47 member states, the Council of Europe includes the European Union as well as representatives from numerous former Soviet states. It is the largest human rights organization in the continent. Their stated goals are protecting human rights, democracy, and the rule of law. The assembly sent their report to diplomats in Germany, American and Britain and asked each country if they’d colluded in the monitoring of data. The United States issued no response, but Germany and Britain both denied that they did.

At this point the council hasn’t verified the claims, but says that at least as far as the UK is concerned it’s probably true. This is due to the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act (DRIP) that legalized large scale spying. That Act left little room for circumvention. The current Prime Minister of Britain, David Cameron, has stated that if he’s reelected he’ll increase the powers of surveillance given to British security services.


How Does Surveillance Affect the Use of Document Management Systems?

If online privacy becomes widely accepted as a human right, or if consumers become more concerned about what data is being collected on them—and how it’s being used—then new solutions need to be made. While ideally we’d see these companies and government agencies stop intercepting information altogether, the reality is that it’s likely up to the end user to find ways to do business and correspond that aren’t subject to online data mining. That’s where DMS can make a difference.

DMS offers organizations incredible control over the information they store. Take for example eRecording management. Law firms and other companies that deal with the law can easily maintain files that include:

  • Court Documents
  • Trust Deeds
  • Legal Warrants
  • Court Proceedings
  • Judgments
  • Trial Minutes
  • Property Records
  • Notarized Forms
  • Virtually Any Other Recording Document

All documents in a DMS are scanned, stored, and managed digitally. This allows organizations freedom to properly archive documents while still ensuring they’re secure.


Give Direct Access to Your Clients to Avoid Online Privacy Issues

The concerns of the Council of Europe, and other organizations that work to protect online privacy, revolve around the government intercepting and monitoring online data. This includes emails sent from one company to another. Instead of emailing documents to clients, you can simply use a comprehensive DMS and give them instant access to the documents.

The way it works is simple. You save it to eFileCabinet, or your DMS of choice, and then give login credentials to the clients who need access to it. If they need access to numerous documents, you can give them role-based security clearance. Simply assign them a specific role, and then give that role permission to access only the documents they need access to. This gives them the ability to instantly access what they need, but it keeps the documents from being subject to government or hacker interception.