Privacy International defends the right to privacy across the world, and fights surveillance and other intrusions into private life by governments and corporations. Read more »


Communications data retention

We believe that nationwide communications data retention policies are incompatible with human rights.

When a government implements a data retention law, every citizen's electronic communications and interactions are then logged and retained by their network and service providers, on the off chance that the authorities will want access to them at some unspecified point in the future. We have been fighting data retention since the policy was first floated in the United Kingdom in 2000. We resisted government efforts to push it through the British legislature in the aftermath of 11th September 2001, and continued to fight it as it moved to the European Union from 2002 onwards. Sadly, we were ultimately unsuccessful in preventing the policy from being approved at the European Parliament in 2005, but we continue to fight new forms of data retention arising in other jurisdictions.

 

Communications data retention

In the media
Publisher: 
CBR
Publication date: 
08-Apr-2014
Author(s): 
Jimmy Nicholls
Original story link: 

Civil liberties advocate Privacy International said: "If the Data Retention Directive fails to meet the requirements of human rights law, then the mass surveillance programs operated by the US and UK governments must equally be in conflict with the right to privacy."

In the media
Publisher: 
Mashable
Publication date: 
08-Apr-2014
Author(s): 
Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai
Original story link: 

"It is not, and never was, proportionate to spy on the entire population of Europe," London-based Internet advocacy group Privacy International said in a press release. "It is right and overdue that this terrible directive was struck down."

In the media
Publisher: 
Ars Technica
Publication date: 
08-Apr-2014
Author(s): 
Cyrus Farivar
Original story link: 

Privacy International, a London-based nonprofit, argued in a statement that “this ruling demolishes communications data surveillance laws not just across Europe, but sets the precedent for the world.”

“What the Snowden revelations have shown us over the past year is that the international surveillance apparatus set up by intelligence agencies is in direct conflict with human rights," the nonprofit said. "If the Data Retention Directive fails to meet the requirements of human rights law, then the mass surveillance programs operated by the US and UK governments must equally be in conflict with the right to privacy.”

In the media
Publisher: 
The Guardian
Publication date: 
08-Apr-2014
Author(s): 
Charles Arthur
Original story link: 

The pressure group Privacy International called the ECJ ruling "strong and unequivocal", saying that "the right to privacy provides a fundamental barrier between the individual and powerful institutions, and laws allowing for indiscriminate, blanket retention on this scale are completely unacceptable.

"As the court states, it is not, and never was, proportionate to spy on the entire population of Europe. The types of data retained under this hastily enacted directive are incredibly revealing about our lives, including our daily activities and whom we have relationships with. It is right and overdue that this terrible directive was struck down."

Blog
Carly Nyst's picture

In the same week that the Advocate General of the European Court of Justice labelled the retention of electronic communications data throughout Europe as a “serious interference with the right to privacy”, the French National Assembly has codified into law a suite of invasive and unrestrained surveillance powers, allowing an expanded range of government bodies invasive access to citizens electronic communications data and content and threatening the privacy rights of the French people. 

Press release

Civil society organisations today called upon the members of the Human Rights Council to assess whether national surveillance laws and activities are in line with their international human rights obligations.

The Snowden revelations have confirmed that governments worldwide continue to expand their spying capabilities, at home and abroad. Widespread surveillance is being conducted in violation of individuals’ rights to privacy and free expression, and is seldom regulated by strong legal frameworks that respect human rights.

With this in mind, a coalition of civil society organisations today launched the “International Principles on the Application of Human Rights to Communications Surveillance,” a set of standards that interpret States’ human rights obligations in light of new technologies and surveillance capabilities. The Principles are endorsed by over 260 civil society organisations around the world, and for the first time set out an evaluative framework for assessing surveillance practices in the context of international human rights law.

Blog
Sam Smith's picture

It was only a year ago when the UK Home Office repeatedly made statements about how their capability to collect intelligence was degrading, and how new laws such as the Communications Data Bill were necessary to protect citizens.

In hindsight, given the revelations about the UK domestic mass surveillance programs, these once desperate cries for more crime- and terrorism-fighting tools now look like nothing more than attempts to illegitimately spy more on all citizens. Quotes from those debates look rather different now.

Unable to access

“The Agencies require access to communications data – in certain tightly controlled circumstances and with appropriate authorisation – in the interests of national security. We recognise that changing technology means that the Agencies are unable to access all the communications data they need, that the problem is getting worse, and that action is needed now.”1

Edward Snowden’s documents show otherwise.

In the media
Publisher: 
BBC
Publication date: 
12-Jun-2013
Author(s): 
Zoe Kleinman
Original story link: 

However privacy concerns about information uploaded to the internet have been around for almost as long as the internet itself, and campaign group Privacy International says the reported existence of Prism confirms its "worst fears and suspicions".

In the media
Publisher: 
Christian Science Monitor
Publication date: 
11-Jun-2013
Author(s): 
Ian Evans
Original story link: 

Mike Rispoli at campaign group Privacy International says Snowden’s actions were "very brave," but that it's hard to predict what Snowden's fate will be.

In the media
Publisher: 
The Guardian
Publication date: 
07-Jun-2013
Author(s): 
Nick Hopkins and Nicholas Watts
Original story link: 

Eric King, head of research at Privacy International – a charity focused on the right to privacy – said: "Keeping the public in the dark about secretive and potentially unlawful programmes must stop, and greater oversight is needed to ensure human rights are not being trampled."

Pages

Subscribe to Communications data retention