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September 26, 2005

Briefing for members of the European Parliament on data retention

Privacy International have put together an excellent open letter to all members of the European Parliament, addressing the current proposals on communications traffic data retention. It begins:

Dear Members of the European Parliament,

We would like to take this opportunity to address you regarding the current proposals on communications data retention. As you are well aware, both the Council and the Commission have put forward proposals on data retention. It now appears that the policy is finally shifting to the first pillar away from the third. This does not mean that the policy has improved. Despite many edits over the last two years, both the Council and the Commission proposals continue to be invasive, illegal, illusory and illegitimate.

These proposals continue to require the collection and logging of every telecommunication transaction of every individual within modern European society. Almost all human conduct in an information society generates traffic data. Therefore traffic data can be used to piece together a detailed picture of human conduct.[1] Under the various proposals, this data will be kept for between six months and four years.

There are clear challenges for these proposals with respect to the European Convention on Human Rights, the European Charter on Fundamental Rights and national constitutions. The case still has not been made that retention is necessary in a democratic society.[2] The claimed need for harmonisation is premature at best and challenges democratic process.

The letter, which is well worth reading, has been endorsed by:

  • Association Electronique Libre, Belgium
  • BBA Switzerland
  • Bits of Freedom, the Netherlands
  • Chaos Computer Club, Germany
  • Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility - ES, Spain
  • Digital Rights, Denmark
  • EFFi, Finland
  • Forum InformatikerInnen für Frieden und gesellschaftliche Verantwortung, Germany
  • Foundation for Information Policy Research, UK
  • GreenNet, UK
  • ISOC-Bulgaria
  • Open Rights Group, UK
  • Privacyblog.net, Slovenia
  • Netzwerk Neue Medien, Germany
  • quintessenz.org, Austria
  • Stand.org.uk, UK
  • Statewatch, UK
  • Stop1984, Germany
  • Swiss Internet User Group, Switzerland
  • VIBE!AT, Austria