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Chapter: 

Introduction

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.

Footnotes

  • 1. The Commission claims that traffic data is the digital equivalent of fingerprints. But our fingerprints are not retained by default; nor do they pinpoint our networks of friends, colleagues, activities, and movements.
  • 2. The European Data Protection Supervisor reached a similar conclusion in his assessment, “Opinion of the European Data Protection Supervisor on the Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on the retention of data processed in connection with the provision of public electronic communication services and amending Directive 2002/58/EC (COM (2005) 438 final)”, available at http://www.edps.eu.int/legislation/Opinions_A/05-09-26_Opinion_data_rete...