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No agreement on EU telecoms data proposals


  • Buys us a little time.
    At least until October.

  • You must be joking... McDowell sowed this up with last years Terrorist Act.
    Comms data must be retained for 3 years in Ireland already. I think the worst that can come from Europe is that the status quo is maintained, and I wouldn't be surprised it the period was reduced from 3 years.

    Its funny to note that McD blamed the Data Protction Commissioner for the lack of debate on data rentention in the Dail. Even though legisation on DR had been promised for about 3 years, it wasnt until the DPC threated legal action over it was the legislation introduced... as a last minute amendment to a Terrorism Act. As a result data retention was placed on a statutory footing before anyone realised. Before 2004 the basis for DR in Ireland was recognised as being illegal.

    The reason for the 3 year delay in introducing the legislation was attributed to the government (like the UK) trying to launder the legislation through Europe. It sounds better to be able to say "the Germans made us do it" rather than taking personal responsibility.... although this clearly is changing: "Three out of four Brits would happily hand over their civil liberties in exchange for better security against terrorist attacks, according figures from pollsters ICM" -

  • From the Inter Service Press Agency via [URL=feed://]Google News Digital Rights Ireland RSS feed[/URL]
    Access to Communication Data Opposed
    Magda Fahsi

    BRUSSELS, Sep 23 (IPS) - The European Commission proposal for data retention by communication companies is running into considerable opposition.

    The European Commission -- the executive of the European Union (EU) - has adopted a proposal for a directive that would oblige telecommunication companies to store data on all phone calls, faxes and emails within the EU for potential use in tracking suspected terrorists.

    Under the proposed directive announced Sep. 21, telecommunication operators would be required to keep details of all fixed and mobile phone calls, including unanswered calls, for one year.

    Internet service providers would have to store data on emails for six months. The measure applies to data such as the date, time, duration and type of communication (voice, SMS etc.), and in the case of mobile telephony the location at the start and end of the communication.

    The proposal does not cover the content of the communication.

    The Commission offered no argument about the necessity of data retention. It simply announced "the necessity to have rules at EU level that guarantee the availability of traffic data for anti-terrorism purposes across the 25 member states."

    Some European Union member states have been pressing for such a requirement since the Madrid train attacks in March 2004 that left close to 200 dead.

    An earlier draft framework prepared by Britain, Ireland, France and Sweden, and submitted to national justice and home affairs ministers was opposed by Finland, Austria and Germany, who were concerned about the costs this would entail for telecommunication operators.

    The ministers text was also criticised by the European Parliament -- the only democratically elected body among the European institutions -- and civil liberties organisations.

    "Data retention is an invasive tool that interferes with the private lives of everyone in Europe," European Digital Rights, a non-profit association of 17 digital civil rights organisations, Privacy International, an international non-governmental organisation, and Statewatch, a group that monitors civil liberties in Europe said in an open letter to the European Parliament in June.

    They declared that "retaining personal data on everyone is an illegal practice in terms of Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights."

    Several members of the European Parliament (MEPs) also opposed the proposal. "To what extent is the proposed system compatible with the right to respect for private and family life as defined in Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights?" Alexander Nuno Alvaro, the German rapporteur on the issue asked during the June debate in Parliament. "To what extent is it compatible with the fundamental rights enshrined in our national constitutions, such as the right to determine the disclosure and use of one's own personal data and the right of telephone privacy?"

    Many MEPs said mandatory data retention would be a disproportionate measure. They questioned the necessity, the effectiveness, and the high costs for industry and telecommunications users.

    A major problem with the ministers draft was that the European Parliament was given only a consultative role. The Parliament sought equal powers with the Council (of ministers from the members states) over adoption of the legislation.

    This is exactly what the Commission's new proposal for a directive aims at. It also proposes shorter retention periods.. But this does not mean consensus on the new text.

    "We reject the Commission's proposal as much as the JHA (justice and home affairs) ministers draft," a spokesperson for European Digital Rights (EDRi) told IPS. "Both are very similar. The Commission's proposal only differs in a shorter retention period."

    EDRi and Transparency International object to any form of systematic retention of data. They have launched a petition on the Internet under the banner "data retention is no solution", which they say has already been signed by more than 47,600 people.

    But European Parliament rapporteur Alexander Alvaro said in a press release that "winning co-decision on this important area is a success for the Parliament's prerogative." He added that the Commission's draft seemed "at first glance to be heading in the right direction," but refused to comment further on its content.

    It is not certain whether the earlier justice and home affairs ministers' draft will now be withdrawn. Britain, which holds presidency of the council of ministers till the end of the year is keen on having an agreement on data retention adopted before then.

    "Discussions are ongoing between the UK presidency, the Parliament and the Commission," a Commission official told IPS. "If the presidency can get assurances from the Parliament that the Commission's proposal will be adopted before the end of the year, it will probably agree to withdraw the ministers' text." (END/2005)