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E.U. Parliament votes to force "data retention" on telecom, Net firms

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-------- Original Message --------
Subject: EU Parliament agrees to data retention
Date: Wed, 14 Dec 2005 16:20:00 +0100
From: Ralf Bendrath <bendrath@zedat.fu-berlin.de>
Reply-To: bendrath@zedat.fu-berlin.de
To: Declan McCullagh <declan@well.com>

Declan, something for Politech? Very bad news from Europe.

The European Parliament this morning voted in favour of a backroom deal
that had been made between the two big parties in Brussels and the Council
of Ministers, currently chaired by the UK. The deal completely ignored the
amendmends proposed by the Parliament's Rapporteur and by the Justice and
Civil Liberties Committee that was (well - officialy) in charge of the
process. After a hot debate and a number of signs of cracks in the party
blocks, a majority of 378 parliamentarians voted in favour of mandatory
retention of telecommunications data, 197 against, 30 abstained.

This is in short what we will get now:

- retention of telephone and internet connection data (including email
addresses) and location data for mobile phone calls
- no harmonisation of the retention period (6 to 24 months but longer is
allowed: Poland wants 15 years)
- no harmonisation of cost reimbursement for the needed investments on the
providers' side
- no limitation to certain types of crimes for which access is allowed
- retention of unsuccessful call attempts
- no independent evaluation
- no extra privacy safeguards
- follow-up committee without representation from civil rights organisations

Civil liberties organizations, consumers organizations and all the telco
industry associations as well as journalists associations had been
fighting like hell against this major and unprecedented surveillance plan
until the last minute. We did not win (the outcome is in fact the worst
possible, exactly what the UK home affairs minister Clarke wanted), but we
at least raised a lot of awareness and disturbed the conservative and
social-democrat party lines. But the UK council presidency had pushed so
hard after the London bombings that this directive will enter the EU
history as the one which took the shortest time ever from the first
Commission draft to the final vote (less than three months - normally they
need years).

The next steps will be the adoption by the Council of Ministers (before
christmas) and then the implementation process into national laws. There
will be challenges to this plan before the constitutional courts. I am
pretty sure that the German constitutional court will not like it, as it
recently had ruled unconstitutional a major eavesdropping plan on phone
calls - and that one was only directed at suspicious persons, whereas the
EU directive applies to every single communication of all 450 Million
inhabitants of the EU.

More information, including recordings of the EP debate, is available at

(European Digital Rights, www.edri.org)

Posted by Declan McCullagh on Dec 14, 2005 in category privacy

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