Exporting data to the Faroes? Then you’re in luck

Jeremy Phillips

Just published today on the online version of the Official Journal is the ground-breaking news of Commission Decision of 5 March 2010 pursuant to Directive 95/46/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council on the adequate protection provided by the Faeroese Act on processing of personal data. The Faeroe Islands, a self-governing community within the Kingdom of Denmark, opted not to join the European Community in 1973, when the Danes did. They are therefore a “third country” within the meaning of the Data Protection Directive. According to the Commission Decision’s preamble,

“The Home Rule Act of the Faeroe Islands divides all policy areas into two main groups, whereby Special Faeroese Affairs are the responsibility of the Faeroese Government’s administration and legislation and Joint Concerns are the responsibility of the Kingdom of Denmark. This Decision only covers transfer of personal data from the Community to recipients in the Faeroe Islands who are subject to the Act on Processing of Personal Data (‘the Faeroese Act’). The Faeroese Act does not apply to the processing of personal data in the course of an activity carried out by authorities of the Kingdom of Denmark, namely, the High Commissioner of the Faeroe Islands (Rigsombudsmanden), the Court of the Faeroe Islands (Sorenskriveren), the Commissioner of the Faeroe Islands (Politimesteren på Færøerne), the Prison and Probation Service of the Faeroe Islands (Kriminalforsorgens afdeling), the Island Command Faeroes (Færøernes Kommando) and the Chief Medical Officer of the Faeroe Islands (Landslægen).

The Faeroese Act is based on the standards set out in Directive 95/46/EC and accordingly it covers all the basic principles necessary for an adequate level of protection of the right of natural persons to privacy with respect to the processing of personal data. The application of these standards is guaranteed by judicial remedy and by independent supervision carried out by the supervisory authority, the Data Protection Commissioner, who is invested with powers of investigation and intervention”.

Accordingly, under Article 1 of the Decision,

“… the Faeroe Islands are considered as providing an adequate level of protection for personal data transferred from the European Union to recipients subject to the Act on Processing of Personal Data (‘the Faeroese Act’)”.

For those who really want to know more, you can read Opinion 9/2007 on the level of protection of personal data in the Faroe Islands here. Datonomy was surprised to score as many as 118,000 Google hits for a search combining the terms “Faroe Islands” and “data protection”, so there is obviously a higher level of interest in this issue than one might first suspect.

Random statistics for the day: (i) of the 48,660 population of the Faroe Islands, 0.2% are Polish; (ii) more than three times as many people work for PricewaterhouseCooper as live in the Faroe Islands.

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