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Mining its own citizens: EP passes Data Retention Directive

by srutis Thu Dec 15th, 2005 at 01:24:40 PM EST

While the US congress is fighting over the extension of the Patriot Act, today a similar provision has already been passed by the European Parliament.

 Data law passed in EU seen as restrictive

The European Parliament on Wednesday passed an anti-terror law requiring Internet service providers and telephone companies in the 25-nation European Union to keep phone and Web site records on their customers for as long as two years.

Furthermore, the data is not stored for retrieval after a decision by a judge to pursue a certain person, but,

Police officers and the secret service will be able to use data mining technologies to find links between communication partners in the mountains of data that the 450 million citizens of the EU create. Potentially, the data will allow the authorities to reconstruct who communicated with whom for how long and, for instance, who was on the Internet when. When these actions take effect, everyone will be considered suspicious and potentially become part of the investigations of security authorities.

(EU Parliament approves widespread surveillance of telecommunications)

Before, also the EU Commission was happy to finally implement this measure:
The EU Commission welcomes agreement on the storage of telecommunications data

Basically, Brussels is concerned with the storage of connection and location data created during the processing of services such as telephone calls, SMS, e-mails, surfing, and file sharing. These data archives will then be used to create profiles of the communication behavior and movements of suspects. The Christian and Social Democrats are calling for such data to be kept along with IP addresses for at least six and up to 24 months. The Greens and others reject
the directive altogether or are at least calling for the re-inclusion of the stipulation that companies must be reimbursed for the costs thus incurred.

Frankly speaking, I'm appalled that this directive has been passed with such little resistance (and with the support of the Social Democrats).

In Switzerland, only 15 years ago, the "Fichenskandal" broke. It turned out that the federal and cantonal gouvernment surveilled and kept documents ("Fiches") about nine hundred thousand Swiss citizens which were deemed to be close to the unions, left-leaning or supportive of communism. It seems that the European Parliament wanted thouroughly and decided that everybody is a suspect.

This time it's not because of the communists but because of the terrorists. The desire to watch its own citizens closely stays with the powerful.

Apparently there is still time to at least minimize the damage done in the parliaments of the member countries, but I'm sure somebody more versed in European politics than me can follow up on that.

Each EU member state, which must adopt the measure into local law before it can take effect, will determine how long data is kept. Only connected calls, e-mail exchanges and Web site visits will be recorded, not the content of individual conversations or e-mails.

EU's Big Brother Plan

Since December 2004, my provider has been at the forefront to fight the retention principle, including court battles against the state.

"Treason doth never prosper: what's the reason?
For if it prosper, none dare call it treason."

▼ ▼ ▼ MY DIARY

'Sapere aude'

by Oui (Oui) on Thu Dec 15th, 2005 at 02:17:40 PM EST
EP Press Service: Deal on EU data retention law
The European Parliament adopted today by 378 votes in favour, 197 against and 30 abstentions a directive on data retention in first reading. The final text negotiated beforehand with the Council aims to facilitate judicial co-operation in criminal matters by approximating Member States' legislation on the retention of data processed by telecommunications companies.

The directive covers traffic and location data generated by telephony, SMS and internet, but not the content of the information communicated.

The new EU law will help national authorities to track down possible criminals and terrorists by granting them access to a list of all telephone calls, SMS or Internet connections made by suspects during the previous few months.  The amendments finally adopted were a compromise between the PES and EPP groups with the Council and differed in some key points to the draft directive adopted initially by the Civil Liberties Committee.  The GUE, Greens and UEN groups and some members from the ALDE group voted against the directive in the final vote.  Alexander Nuno ALVARO (ALDE, DE) was unhappy with the result of the compromise adopted and withdrew his name as rapporteur.

Limited access to data

In the final text adopted, Parliament is proposing a number of amendments to the Commission text to restrict the use of retained data and ensure that the future law fully respects the privacy of the telephone and internet users.

Who foots the bill?

Finally, MEPs decided to delete the paragraph in which it was mandatory for Member States to reimburse telecom companies for all additional costs of retention, storage and transmission of data.  In the draft directive adopted by the Civil Liberties Committee, MEPs had initially called for the full reimbursement of costs.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Dec 15th, 2005 at 06:44:21 PM EST
i find it staggering to contemplate the sheer amount of hard drives purring needed to collect and store all this data, which must border on the astronomical.

not to mention the army of kafka-esque clerks all poring over it for anomalous behaviour.

looks good for employment!

what education syllabus caters to this blossoming industry?

pattern recognition? political zealotry?

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Thu Dec 15th, 2005 at 08:03:26 PM EST

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