The Commission for the Control of INTERPOL’s files has just issued its 2012 Annual Report.  The report provides information regarding the CCF’s activities over the last year.  It also includes statistics on the CCF’s decisions in cases that it considered during its three sessions in 2012.

Over the next several posts, I will address various topics of interest to the INTERPOL attorneys and subjects.  The primary areas of focus will be the CCF’s decision-making process and results; the CCF’s call for improvement and reform;  and issues that are new to the CCF’s annual report. For today, I will take the opportunity to answer a reader’s question regarding data retention on invalid Red Notices

Deletion of Invalid Red Notices

One of the matters discussed in the annual report is that of data retention after the underlying reason for the data has been satisfied or made invalid.  The CCF reports that there is an ongoing concern with the retention of data within INTERPOL’s files after the subject is no longer wanted.

Normally, INTERPOL deletes information from its databases once a subject is not wanted, and only rarely may that information be retained in compliance with INTERPOL’s rules. 

A reader recently asked a related question: what happens when member countries fail to delete invalid information from their own domestic databases?  Each member country has its own internal databases, separate and apart from its access to INTERPOL’s databases.  INTERPOL’s rules require that member countries process all data in conformity with their own domestic laws and regulations.  

When a member country fails to delete invalid data from INTERPOL’S databases, this is a clear violation of INTERPOL’s rules, and an evidence-supported complaint to INTERPOL will normally solve the issue.  However, when the country fails to update its own internal databases, domestic law necessarily governs.  INTERPOL may be willing to contact the member country to advise of the inconsistency and recommend an update, but it has no authority to force the correction.

The former Red Notice subject may also avail herself of the fact that INTERPOL’s member countries are required to process information in the context of compliance with their own domestic laws, and where local law requires updating of criminal databases, stale data constitutes a violation of law.  If a member country has a pattern and practice of violating its own rules, specifically with respect to data retention, INTERPOL may exercise its right to place the country’s NCB (National Central Bureau) under supervision until it is satisfied that the country is back in compliance with its own rule of law.

A member country’s refusal to update its databases, particularly those that are publicly represented as being INTERPOL-related, certainly runs counter to INTERPOL’s stated goals of accountability and transparency. 

As always, questions and comments are welcomed.