Advanced Search
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

Processing Data On Racial Or Ethnic Origin For Antidiscrimination Policies:How To Reconcile The Promotion Of Equality With The Right To Privacy?

Contents:

Author Info

  • JULIE RINGELHEIM
Registered author(s):

    Abstract

    Abstract: The fight against discrimination has now become a major concern of the European Community. In this context, one issue has come to the forefront: that of the processing of data related to the forbidden grounds of discrimination, in particular racial or ethnic origin. Indeed, the experience of various countries demonstrates the critical role that data and statistics can play in the elaboration, implementation and assessment of policies aimed at combating racial and ethnic discrimination. Yet, many EU member states remain deeply reluctant to collect this type of data. The objection most commonly raised is that processing data on racial or ethnic origin would infringe upon the right to privacy. Two aspects of the right to privacy are at stake: first, it is widely believed that collecting these data would infringe personal data protection rules. Second, the idea of classifying people into racial or ethnic categories is itself contentious, as some fear it would conflict with the notion of individual self-determination.  This paper aims to explore to what extent and under which conditions the data needed to combat racial and ethnic discrimination can be collected, while fully respecting the rights of individuals. Considering first the issue of personal data protection, the paper shows that although data revealing racial or ethnic origin are subject to a special protection regime under European personal data protection norms, their processing is not prohibited in an absolute way. Second, the paper examines the problem of constructing racial or ethnic categories and classifying individuals into them. It observes the emergence in international human rights law of a norm according to which classification of individuals into racial or ethnic categories should in principle be based on self-identification. It then considers the practices of four states in this relation: the United States, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands all have developed different classification systems for the purposes of their antidiscrimination policies. In France, by contrast, there is a priori a strong opposition towards classifying people on the basis of racial or ethnic origin. Yet, the idea of developing means to better measure racial or ethnic discrimination has emerged in the French public debate and is the subject of intense discussions. Examination of states’ practices enables to highlight the tensions and difficulties raised by the enterprise of classifying individuals into racial or ethnic categories in the antidiscrimination context. As far as classification criteria are concerned, it is argued that, despite their shortcomings, both self-identification and place of birth criteria are compatible with human rights requirements. The paper concludes that human rights standards, and in particular the right to privacy, do not preclude the collection of data on racial or ethnic origin for antidiscrimination purposes, but rather define fundamental safeguards that must be respected when gathering this type of information.

    Download Info

    If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
    File URL: http://centers.law.nyu.edu/jeanmonnet/papers/06/060801.html
    File Function: Contents/abstract
    Download Restriction: no

    File URL: http://centers.law.nyu.edu/jeanmonnet/papers/068401.pdf
    File Function: Part of text
    Download Restriction: no

    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Jean Monnet Chair in its series Jean Monnet Working Papers with number 8.

    as in new window
    Length:
    Date of creation: 09 Jun 2006
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:erp:jeanmo:p0238

    Contact details of provider:
    Web page: http://www.jeanmonnetprogram.org/

    Related research

    Keywords: France; Netherlands;

    References

    No references listed on IDEAS
    You can help add them by filling out this form.

    Citations

    Lists

    This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:erp:jeanmo:p0238. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Charlie Pike).

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

    If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.