Data retention in the European Union: A call to action

The EU Directive 2006/24/EC on the retention of data was adopted within the framework of regulating the Single Market, allegedly to harmonize competitive conditions of telecommunication providers and to provide uniform conditions for prosecutors. 5 years after adopting this directive the differences are larger than before.

  • In Sweden and Ireland the governments have refused to implement the data retention into national law.
  • In Romania and Czechia the constitutional courts have declared the data retention is violating the respective constitution and annulled it. In the decision of the romanian constitutional court it is said the data retention violates article 8 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. The data retention was brought before the European Court of Human Rights but it has not decided on it yet.
  • In Great Britain the new coalition between Conservatives and Liberal Democrats agreed upon stopping the retention of Internet and e-mail protocols without reasonable cause. This agreement is not implemented yet.

Some countries like Slovakia, Austria, Norway and Switzerland are looking about the requirements stemming from Brussels regarding the implementation. In the Netherlands the EC directive is implemented in national law but the senate expressed fundamental critique concerning the data retention.

Some countries are exceeding the requirements set by Brussels considerably:

  • In Bulgaria it is possible to get the retentioned data even after minor offenses. In Hungary prosecutors get the retentioned data without having to give any reasons for it at all. But the EC directive is mandating a limitation on the prosecution of serious crimes.
  • In Denmark the Internet services providers have to log the sender and recipient of every 500th TCP packet additionally. This data is not adequate to prosecute crimes at hand. Rather it may get used for dragnet surveillance.
  • In France exists a 12 month storage period. In Italy telephone connections have to be saved for 29 months.
Situation in Germany

In Germany the dispute about the data retention is not settled yet. The federal constituional court has annulled the until March 2010 valid law but argued that it is possible to implement the EC directive in a constitutional way.

Chancellor Merkel and some members of the federal government are pressing for a new law for the data retention.

"Wir sind uns gewahr, dass im Bereich der Vorratsdatenspeicherung noch eine Liefernotwendigkeit besteht." (We are aware that there is still some kind of delivery need in the area of data retention.)

Home Secretary Friedrich sees a danger due to islamistic terror attacks in Germany and the data retention as a necessary tool for the anti terror measures.

The civil society is resisting the restriction of civil rights. Thus, we want to suggest two roads of action and ask for your support:

  • There is the demonstration Freedom not Fear in Berlin on next saturday.
  • Further, one can sign a ePetition against the data retention:
    "Der Deutsche Bundestag möge beschließen, dass die verdachtlose Vorratsdatenspeicherung nicht zulässig ist. Darüber hinaus möge er die Bundesregierung auffordern, sich für eine Aufhebung der entsprechenden EU-Richtlinie und für ein europaweites Verbot der Vorratsdatenspeicherung einzusetzen." (The German Bundestag may establish that the data retention without suspicion is not allowed. Furthermore, it may request the german government to campaign for annulling the respective EC directive and for an european prohibition of a data retention.)

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