Friday, December 09, 2005

Last Chance to Fight EU Data Retention

Next Tuesday, the 13th of December, the European Parliament will vote on a Data Retention Directive. This proposes to extend data retention to the Internet, and will result in your ISPs logging every email you send, every web page you visit, and everything else you do online and storing that information for several years.

We urge you to email, fax or phone your MEPs as soon as possible to express your opposition to this measure, which will introduce mass surveillance of every man, woman and child in the EU.

As to what you should say, it is best if that comes directly from what you consider important. However, Privacy International and EDRI have adopted a position (which DRI has endorsed) setting out five key criticisms of the Directive. Feel free to copy and paste these if you wish.
1. This Directive invades the privacy of all Europeans. The Directive calls for the indiscriminate collection and retention of data on a wide range of Europeans’ activities. Never has a policy been introduced that mandates the mass storage of information for the mere eventuality that it may be of interest to the State at some point in the future.

2. The proposed Directive is illegal. It contravenes the European Convention on Human Rights by proposing the indiscriminate and disproportionate recording of sensitive personal information. Political, legal, medical, religious and press communications would be logged, exposing such information to use and abuse.

3. The Directive threatens consumer confidence. More than 58,000 Europeans have already signed a petition opposing the Directive. A German poll revealed that 78% of citizens were opposed to a retention policy. The Directive will have a chilling effect on communications activity as consumers may avoid participating in entirely legal transactions for fear that this will be logged for years.

4. The Directive burdens EU industry and harms global competitiveness. Retention of all this data creates additional costs of hundreds of millions of Euros every year. These burdens are placed on EU industry alone. The U.S., Canada and the Council of Europe have already rejected retention.

5. The Directive requires more invasive laws. Once adopted, this Directive will prove not to be the ultimate solution against serious crimes. There will be calls for additional draconian measures including:
* the prior identification of all those who communicate, thus requiring ID cards at cybercafes, public telephone booths, wireless hotspots, and identification of all pre-paid clients;
* the banning of all international communications services such as webmail (e.g. Hotmail and Gmail) and blocking the use of non-EU internet service providers and advanced corporate services.

Helpfully, we in Ireland are in a unique position to lobby our MEPs - because the Government has already stated it is so opposed to this particular draft that they will bring a case to the European Court of Justice to block it if the European Parliament approves it. Thus even MEPs from the Government Parties have no reason to support the proposed text in Tuesday’s vote.

It is not too late to stop this law: please join us by contacting your MEPs to say no to a surveillance society.

[Cross-posted from Digital Rights Ireland.]

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