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Get rid or limit the data retention directive

Comment 20th June 2020

 

 

The data retention directive (2006/24/EC) was introduced by the Council of Europe under the lead of the former British and Swedish governments.

The directive enforce a minimum storage period for telecommunications traffic data such as e-mail reception and delivery times, source and destination addresses, and more.

The German implementation of the directive was found to be unconstitutional, and independent reviews have been made determining that blanket traffic data retention is most likely a violation of the European Convention for Human Rights (ECHR).

The current Commissioner of Home Affairs (Cecilia Malmstrom), has indicated that she is not very supportive of the directive, but that a repeal of it would not be possible since the Council wants the data retention.

The British government should work with Malmstrom and in the Council, try to build a majority for a repeal or a substantial limitation of the directive (e.g. make it opt-in and not binding).

Why does this matter?

Blanket data retention (directive 2006/24/EC) is clearly a violation of the ECHR (respect for private correspondence), as most people would interpret the ECHR. It has been found unconstitutional in several member states of the Union. In Germany where there where reviews conducted, the normal citizens communication behaviour was radically changed after the directive was implemented, many people there now refrain from using e-mail for private matters such as corresponding with a psychologist or lawyer. The Human Rights Watch and one hundred and five other civil liberties organisations wrote a joint open letter to Commissioner Malmstrom, asking her to repeal the directive, but sadly the harsh realities is that she cannot do this without a majority in the Council.

Fundamentally, blanket traffic data retention is extremely disproportional as it places the entire European population under mandatory surveillance. It undermines the very foundation of the free and open society that we in Europe have started to take for granted since the fall of the Berlin wall and it substantially undermines the trust between the citizens and the authorities.

The UK actively campaigning within the Council of Ministers, would make it possible to repeal this draconian directive once and for all.


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