INTERPOL Red Notices and Individual Privacy Rights

Estlund Law, P.A.

Estlund Law, P.A.

[Author: James Kennedy*]

The privacy rights of individuals can be a tricky business, especially when it comes to companies that land themselves in hot water when they inadvertently violate an individual’s privacy rights. But what happens in the case of an international police force, such as INTERPOL? Do the privacy rights remain the same for individuals charged with crimes? Must INTERPOL play the by the guidelines of privacy rights set forth by each individual country it is associated with, or may it set its own rules?

Before delving into these questions, one should take into consideration that the vast majority of Red Notices are not displayed on INTERPOL’s website. If you, or a client of yours, happen to be one of the individuals that have a Red Notice and are on INTERPOL’s website, one should start with the basics:

  • What is INTERPOL? INTERPOL is an international police cooperation organization with 194 member country members.
  • What is a Red Notice? A Red Notice is an international alert circulated by Interpol to seek the location or arrest of a person wanted by a judicial jurisdiction or an international tribunal with a view to the individual’s extradition.
  • What kind of information is disseminated on INTERPOL’s website? In a Red Notice, alleged criminals have the following listed: their name, gender, date and place of birth, nationality, physical descriptors (such as height, weight, eye and hair color), languages spoken, and the charges brought against them.

INTERPOL aside, each country has its own criteria of what can and cannot be disseminated in terms of personal data. Bear in mind that most countries balance an individual’s right to privacy against government interests. That being said, if an individual is charged with a crime, the invasion of privacy (such as one’s personal information being disseminated through INTERPOL’s website) may be warranted in the country’s view by the necessity of a compelling state interest (such as the safety and security of the nation).

To exemplify the vast threshold differences that can be between two countries, we might look to the difference between the policies of Denmark and the United States. In Denmark, personal information can only be collected if the individual gives explicit consent, while in the United States, data privacy is not as highly regulated; most regulations are left up to the individual states. Once again, one must be reminded that are person being charged with crime(s) may have their privacy rights compromised with no repercussion, so long as the safety and security of a nation is a sufficiently compelling state interest.

*James Kennedy is a J.D. candidate at Stetson University College of Law

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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