Limiting the storage of traffic data
The European data commissioners (through the Article 29 working group) have pleaded for a maximum storage period of half a year for traffic data that telecommunication companies store for billing purposes. With the opinion paper the working group tries to limit the duration and scope of traffic data storage.
“Traffic data should be kept for as long as necessary to enable bills to be settled, and disputes resolved. Ordinarily this involves a maximum storage period of 3-6 months and no longer in cases where bills have been paid and do not appear to have been disputed or queried (having regard to the privacy right of individual subscribers)”.
The working group also pleas for the stored traffic data to be limited to the necessary data. The opinion paper does not point out which data is necessary for billing purposes and which not. It is a fact that many GSM providers justify the storage of location data for the sole use of billing purposes.
In the EU a heated debate is continuing over the possibility to force telecommunication companies to store traffic data for the purpose of policing and national security. A debate about the desirability of such an obligation would be undermined when the telecommunication sector would already store the same data for billing purposes.
Privacy authorities recommendation on storage of billing data (29.01.2003)