Privacy and Health Research. Codes of conduct as possible guides


A special provision, which recognizes the sector-specific nature of data, may provide an opening for health professionals to set guidelines to which public authorities could defer

(Article 27).

¶ 1. The Member States and the Commission shall encourage the drawing up of codes of conduct intended to contribute to the proper implementation of the national provisions adopted by the Member States pursuant to this Directive, taking account of the specific features of the various sectors.

Some professional societies are considering drafting codes of practice, as are some industry associations. Such codes would have to be adopted by the practitioners in E.U. countries; eventually recognition could be sought from the E.U.

A Dutch example of the usefulness of such a code may be instructive. During the first years of the 1990s the Council for Medical Research, a medical society, voluntarily established a "Code of Conduct for Medical Research" covering research on pre-existing medical data.85 The Privacy Commission (Registratiekamer) was invited to monitor its implementation. Over several years the government found the Code to be effective, and in 1995 adopted the Code as national law.

(85) The organization is the Stichting Federatie van Medisch Wetenschappelijke Verenigingen. See description of the Dutch situation below.