In a non-binding opinion issued yesterday, the Polish Advocate General at the European Court of Justice, Szpunar, recommends watering down the current jurisprudence and allowing blanket retention of internet connection data of the entire population to be used to prosecute file sharing, even without a court order [https://curia.europa.eu/jcms/upload/docs/application/pdf/2023-09/cp230151de.pdf]. The civil rights activist and MEP Dr. Patrick Breyer (Pirate Party) warns:
“Originally, the European Court of Justice allowed the indiscriminate retention of internet connection data of the entire population on the grounds of child protection. Now it is to be permitted to investigate file-sharers and defamation. This goes to show: All dams break when the red line of blanket mass surveillance is crossed. Only non-stored data is safe from data greed, abuse and data leaks.
The argument of child protection does not justify a blanket internet data retention: Germany and Austria have enforced the law successfully without such blanket retention for years. In Germany the clearance rate for abuse and exploitation material on the internet exceeds 90%. Only 3% of the NCMEC tips could not be traced. Countries with data retention in place are no more successful. Child protection can be done differently, for example with the financing of prevention work, protection concepts, quick freeze procedures, targeted undercover investigations and login traps.
IP addresses are like our digital fingerprints. Their blanket collection would endanger crime prevention by making anonymous counselling and counselling services as well ass victim support through anonymous self-help forums impossible, and damage the free press, which depends on anonymous informants. The mass and blanket recording of the internet connections of millions of law-abiding citizens is a totalitarian measure that is incompatible with the values of a free democracy.”