Ireland: champion in requesting retained traffic data

By EDRi · July 31, 2013

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Deutsch: [Irland: Führend bei der Abfrage von Vorratsdaten |]

During the ECJ hearing on 9 July 2013 considering the legality of the
European Data Retention Directive, it has come out that the Irish
authorities are champions in requesting people’s data stored on phone or
Internet, having made several times more such requests than other
countries comparable in size.

The Data Retention Directive limits the use of such data to combating
serious crime and terrorism. However, the Irish representative, told ECJ
judges that “6 000 to 10 000” requests were made annually under the
Irish law.

According to the a 2012 European Commission report regarding the data
requests made in 2010 by member states, cited at the hearing as evidence
in support of the directive’s implementation, Irish authorities
(including the Garda, Revenue Commissioners and Defence Forces) made 14
928 data orders. The Department of Justice has recently confirmed 12 675
data requests for 2011. A spokesman for the Department of Justice told
The Irish Times: “The communications data retention statistics for
Ireland for 2012 are in the order of 9,000 requests.”

The UK refused to disclose figures at the ECJ hearing.

Meanwhile the counsel representing Austria, which is comparable in size
with Ireland, said authorities had made 326 requests for data in a
recent one-year period. Irrespective of which figure is considered for
Ireland, the discrepancy is more than obvious.

To make thinks even worse, the spokesman from the Irish Department of
Justice refused to give any details on the nature of the requests,
stating: “It is not the practice nor would it be in the public interest
to go into further detail of the provision of the data to the relevant

At the same time, during the ECJ hearing, the representative of the
Austrian government provided an extensive set of figures about the use
of data stored by internet services and telecommunication providers,
according to the Austrian data retention implementation programme (which
is presently challenged at the Austrian Constitutional Court).

The classification of the cases presented by Austria – 16 thefts, 12
drug cases, 12 cases of stalking, 7 frauds and 9 others – brought about
a critical question from ECJ Judge Thomas von Danwitz, the main court
rapporteur for the case: “Was there a terrorist case?”

If none of the 326 requests made by Austria is about terrorism or
serious crime, could we imagine what the 10 000 requests made by Ireland
are for?

None of the representatives of the Member States present at the hearing
was able to offer more solid statistics or any scientific data that
would support the necessity of the directive.

State agencies target Irish phone and internet records (25.07.2013)

Data retention might not be proportional to risks (9.07.2013)

EDRi-gram: Data retention: “We ask the Court to rule in favour of
Freedom” (17.07.2013)