Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Data retention directive published

The Data Retention Directive, Directive 2006/24/EC, has been published. Digital rights folks will remember that the European Data Protection Supervisor advised against it last Autumn. Thanks to EU blog for the heads up.

"2. The EDPS recognises the importance for law enforcement agencies of the Member States of having all the necessary legal instruments at their disposal, in particular in the combat of terrorism and other serious crime. An adequate availability of certain traffic and location data of public electronic services can be a crucial instrument for those law enforcement agencies and can contribute to the physical security of persons. In addition it should be noted that this does not automatically imply the necessity of the new instruments as foreseen in the present proposal.

3. It is equally evident that the proposal has a considerable impact on the protection of personal data. If one considers the proposal solely from the perspective of data protection, traffic and location data should not be retained at all for the purpose of law enforcement. It is for reasons of data protection that Directive 2002/58/EC establishes as a principle of law that traffic data must be erased as soon as storage is no longer needed for purposes related to the communication itself (including billing purposes). Exemptions to this principle of law are subject to strict conditions...

74. It is essential to the EDPS that the proposal respects the fundamental rights. A legislative measure which would harm the protection guaranteed by Community law and more in particular by the case law of the Court of Justice and the European Court of Human Rights is not only unacceptable, but also illegal.

75. The necessity and the proportionality of the obligation to retain data - in its full extent - have to be demonstrated.

76. As to the necessity: the EDPS recognises the changes of circumstances, but is as yet not convinced of the necessity of the retention of traffic and location data for law enforcement purposes, as established in the proposal. "

Translated: he thinks the proposal is both illegal and a bad idea but that police should have appropriate tools to fight crime. But thanks largely to the efforts of the UK and French governments, if I remember correctly, the proposal got through the various processes that pass for democracy in the EU. The Irish government promised a legal challenge as soon as the directive was adopted but not out of any sense of concern over the expansion of surveillance powers or the cost of the proposals to the industry. They just thought the directive was too restrictive and would cramp their style in relation to their own domestic situation.

Question: does anyone know how far the Irish challenge to the directive has got so far, if anywhere?

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