Czech Republic: Attempts to reintroduce data retention

By EDRi · June 6, 2012

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Deutsch: [Tschechien: Neuer Anlauf zur Wiedereinführung der Vorratsdatenspeicherung |]

For over a year now, Czech operators have not generally retained data on
electronic communication for the needs of police – data police
considered crucial in the investigation of crime. Yet, every year, there
has been an increase in the number of solved crimes. Guardians of
privacy are therefore convinced there is no need to monitor private
electronic communications. However, the Chamber of Deputies of the
Parliament of the Czech Republic discusses the reintroduction of data

In March 2011, the Constitutional Court of the Czech Republic decided to
cancel the obligation of operators to retain traffic and localisation
data on the electronic communications of all the citizens for the needs
of the police and other authorized bodies, following a complaint filed
by the civic association EDRi-member Iuridicum Remedium (IuRe) and
supported by 52 deputies. The police can currently use only data kept
for other purposes, such as billing.

“Prior to the decision of the Constitutional Court, we were true
European ‘champions’ in the number of police requests for such data. In
the first three months of 2011 only, just prior to the decision of the
Constitutional Court, the police requested this information in criminal
proceedings in a total of 29 661 cases. Some of these requests were
multiple, addressing for example all three mobile phone operators. So
that a total of 61 698 responses with data files were provided,” says
Jan Voboril, lawyer with IuRe. He also adds that in the first three
months of 2012, only 2 240 requests were filled and only 2980 responses
provided – which adds up to more than ten times less requests and twenty
times less responses. IuRe requested this data from the Special Tasks
Department of the Police of the Czech Republic.

“It is interesting that such a large drop in the number of requests had
virtually no effect on the detection of crime. According to the police
statistics for 2010, a year when operators kept the data and it was
widely used by the police, and for 2011, when, following the decision of
the Constitutional Court, there was limited data retention for the most
part of the year, with a substantial drop in the number of requests for
information, the Czech Republic saw an increase in crime the detection
rate from 37,55% to 38,54 %. Therefore statistics do contradict what the
police says: the Police insists that data retention is more or less an
essential tool and limiting data retention has a major impact on police
work. “It is obvious that the police still has sufficient tools for the
investigation of crimes apart from global data retention related to the
communications of all citizens,” explains Voboril.

Currently, the Chamber of Deputies of the Parliament of the Czech
Republic discusses a draft document for the amendment of the Act on
Electronic Communications aimed to reintroduce the obligation of
operators to retain data in order to implement the European directive.
IuRe sent its comments on this questionable proposal to the Members of
the Parliament.

In some areas, such as the right of the police to request these data for
purposes related to searching for wanted and missing persons outside the
scope of criminal proceedings, there is a lack of protection against
abuse. “The police is aware of this as well, as confirmed to us by
representatives of the Special Tasks Department who also said they
sought to change these authorisations which can be misused. However the
Ministry of Interior is blocking the solution to this problem,” says

“We would see the best solution in declining the current proposal or
passing only stricter rules for the use of these data and simultaneously
declining the obligation of operators to retain data for the needs of
the police and other authorities. Europe currently expects a decision of
the European Court of Justice assessing the acceptability of global data
retention as required by the Directive in respect of its compatibility
with fundamental right to privacy. At the same time, the Directive is
being revised by the European Commission. In Germany, where the
Constitutional Court annulled these legal provisions in 2010, it seems
that the Directive will not be implemented at all, despite the threat of
sanctions – given its massive impact on citizens’ rights and with
reference to the unconstitutionality of it. We hope that our legislators
will find the courage and common sense to reject this useless tool with
great impact on our privacy,” concluded Voboril.

(Thanks to EDRi-member Iuridicum Remedium – Czech Republic)