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EU ministers want EU-wide data retention. Breyer: Never again surveillance state!

The great majority of EU justice ministers yesterday once again called a new Europe-wide, suspicionless collection of traffic and location data of the entire population (data retention). In the course of the ePrivacy reform, the EU Council wants to create legal loopholes in order to circumvent several rulings of the Court of Justice on the disproportionality of such data retention.

Justice Commissioner Reynders said said after yesterday’s meeting that the EU Commission first wanted to set out what would be possible according to the ECJ rulings. After that it remained to be seen whether a common position can be found.

German MEP and Civil Liberties activist Patrick Breyer (Pirate Party) explains:

“After repeated defeats in court, the word ‘data retention’ apparently puts Europe’s governments into a veritable data collection frenzy, in which they are no longer are no longer willing to acknowledge the facts: Data retention laws have had no measurable effect on the crime rate or the crime clearance rate in any EU country[1]. Requests for communications data are rarely unsuccessful even in the absence of indiscriminate data retention legislation[2]. The clearance rate for cybercrime in Germany, for example, is at 58.6% and above average even without IP data retention. It fell when data retention legislation was first enacted.

No other surveillance law encroaches so deeply on our privacy as an as the indiscriminate retention of our contacts, movements and internet connections. The greatest danger at present results from the ECJ’s recent approval of IP data retention, which would allow the government to retrace the private internet use of any citizen for months and make it possible to identify pseudonyms. This would endanger whistleblowers and political activists. Criminals can easily circumvent this total surveillance by using anonymisation services, but it would hit ordinary users. If there is one thing we have learned from the from the past totalitarian regimes on German soil, it is that that we must never again allow a surveillance state to be erected.”

[1] Study: No statistically relevant effects of data retention

[2] Study: Traffic data requests rarely unsuccessful even without data retention

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