EU member states are debating indiscriminate retention of our communications and location… again!
Following the July leak of a Commission working paper on Data Retention, NGO Statewatch today published several reactions to the proposals.
The responses of Denmark, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Sweden paint a worrying picture, with proposals by some Member States to apply data retention even to over-the-top services such as WhatsApp or Signal, abolish online anonymity by imposing IP address and subscriber data retention, or even introduce “targeted” retention of data, which would mean you could be spied on just for living in the wrong place, or protesting.
Council documents also show Member States expressing frustration at the decisions of the European Court of Justice to uphold European’s fundamental rights and oppose general and indiscriminate mass surveillance, complaining that the European court’s decisions are detrimental to their surveillance apparatus.
More worrying still, thirteen EU Member States decided to keep their views secret from EU citizens, by refusing the public release of documents detailing their proposals to the Commission.
MEP, civil liberties activist and lawyer Dr Patrick Breyer (Pirate Party), who filed a constitutional complaint against the data retention law, comments:
“The blanket collection of metadata leaves us, and our personal lives exposed. Indiscriminately collecting sensitive information about the social and business interactions, movements and the private lives (e.g. contacts with physicians, lawyers, workers councils, psychologists, helplines, etc.) of millions of citizens that are not suspected of any wrongdoing is a radical and unacceptable measure of mass surveillance.
Data retention is the first surveillance law directed against the entire population. This puts us on a slippery slope. The distinction between content and communications data has been blurred. We know today, according to the current state of research, that metadata allows for conclusions to be drawn that are at least as profound as the content.
Even if IP data retention were legally feasible, all internet users must not be placed under general suspicion and anonymity on the Internet must be protected. A general and indiscriminate retention of our identity on the internet enables the creation of comprehensive personality and movement profiles of practically every citizen to an even greater extent than telephone connection data. Incidentally, there is no proof that internet data retention makes any statistically significant significant contribution at all to the number of crimes solved: when IP data retention was mandated in Germany in 2009, there was no increase in the crime clearance rate.“
A number of cases on data retention are currently being examined by the Court of Justice of the European Union, which stuck down the data retention directive in in 2014, and has repeatedly struck down general and indiscriminate data retention in recent years.
Despite a clear message from the courts, the commission and member states continue to plot mass-surveillance behind the backs of European Citizens. The Pirates will continue to rigorously defend European Citizen’s right to privacy in the European Parliament and beyond.