Kiel, July 14th, 2008

One of the main problems of today’s information society is a lack of trust caused by the possibilities of electronic surveillance. To protect consumers and businesses against such mistrust, they need to know how to choose a product that protects their privacy. This is where EuroPriSe comes in.

EuroPriSe is funded by the European Commission’s eTEN programme with 1.2 million Euro and implemented by a consortium of nine organisations under the leadership of the Independent Centre for Privacy Protection Schleswig-Holstein (ULD). Under the scheme, IT products and IT-based services are audited in order to see if they can be certified as compliant with European regulations on privacy and data security. It uses a two-step procedure: first, an evaluation of the product or service by accepted legal and IT experts, followed by a cross-checking of the evaluation report by an accredited certification body.

“By introducing transparent and verifiable procedures, supervised by independent authorities, EuroPriSe provides a reliable privacy trust mark for end-users of IT Services” says Dr. Thilo Weichert, Data Protection Commissioner for Germany's northernmost state and head of the ULD. “More than 120 experts from the various EU countries have already been trained to work with the EuroPriSe criteria and more than 40 experts have successfully completed the admission procedure and have been granted the right to offer evaluations for IT products and -services according to the European Privacy Seal criteria. Eighteen companies from six countries are participating in the pilot certifications and further companies have started the evaluation process. The first successful certification is a milestone and will encourage more enterprises to participate”, said Kirsten Bock, EuroPriSe Project Manager.

The first EuroPriSe seal was presented this morning by the European Data Protection Supervisor Peter Hustinx to Ixquick, a European meta-search engine.

Ixquick is a meta-search engine ( which forwards search requests of its users to several search engines, gathers and combines their results and presents the results to the requesting users. Privacy is ensured by using several data-minimization techniques: personal data like IP addresses are deleted within 48 hours, after which they are no longer needed to prevent possible abuse of the servers. The remaining (non-personal) data are deleted within 14 days. Ixquick serves as a proxy, i.e. IP addresses of users are not disclosed to other search engines.

„The European Privacy Seal fosters compliance with the European Data Protection regulatory framework and makes privacy-friendly IT products and IT-based services visible for business customers and consumers. The awarding of the first European Privacy Seal to the meta-search engine Ixquick marks an important milestone to implement privacy on the World Wide Web and highlights this privacy-friendly service."
underlined Peter Hustinx, European Data Protection Supervisor.
“The European Commission welcomes the set-up of a uniform European Privacy Seal certification scheme based on the high European Privacy Standards. Customers and enterprises benefit from easy identification of an IT product as ensuring or enhancing European Data Protection rules in the processing of data. The award of the first European Privacy Seal to the meta-search engine Ixquick underlines that a balance between the open nature of the internet, providers´ interests and the protection of personal data of internet users is possible.” said EU Commissioner Viviane Reding in a statement delivered today on occasion of the awarding of the first European Privacy Seal.
“Search engines have always played an important role in the privacy debate.” said Ixquick’s CEO Robert Beens. “There are many merits to a European Privacy Seal. Most importantly, it officially confirms the privacy promises we make to our users. Privacy and relevant search results are what Ixquick is all about. Ixquick is now the first and only EU-approved search engine. We are very proud to have received this award today.”

Developed in close co-operation with privacy and data protection authorities in Europe, the Privacy Seal is expected to become an important instrument both on the European and international level fostering data protection and privacy.

First European Privacy Seal Awarded

Photo #1
from left, click to enlarge):
Frank van Vliet, John Borking, Peter Hustinx, Thilo Weichert, Kirsten Bock, Robert Beens, Alex van Eesteren

Photo #2
from left, click to enlarge):
Robert Beens, Thilo Weichert

The first European privacy seal was presented today to search engine by the European Data Protection Supervisor Peter Hustinx on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of data protection legislation in Schleswig-Holstein.