Lives put at risk by communications data retention

By EDRi · October 20, 2010

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Deutsch: [Vorratsdatenspeicherung gefährdet Menschenleben |]

A report published on 8 October 2010 by German civil liberties activists
reveals that human lives are put at risk by the retention of all
telecommunication data.

According to the report, the data retention policy has endangered scientific
research, caused unemployment, encouraged corruption, promoted the abuse of
personal data and hindered the prosecution of crime.

The report gives examples of cases when the registration of communication
data failed to help the police in stopping criminals and how criminals might
have used more discreet ways of communicating and internet cafes to disguise
the origin and destination of messages.

Crisis lines have also been hindered in their work to persuade potential
perpetrators not to commit violent crimes by the traceability of anonymous

Already a 2009 study showed that the communications data retention law had
resulted in 12.8% of those surveyed already using an anonymisation
service, 6.4% moving to a service provider that didn’t store data and
5.1% using internet cafés, The report also revealed that journalists had
lost their sources for fear of being traced.

The legislation also opened the door to abuse. In 2006, a T-Mobile co-worker
sold a database containing the personal data of 17 million customers,
including private addresses and secret numbers of politicians, ministers, an
ex-federal president, industrial leaders, billionaires and religious

“Even if one investigation was facilitated by collecting all call details,
the policy has frustrated many other investigations and put human lives at
risk,” stated the Working Group on Data Retention adding: “Blanket and
indiscriminate recording of details on every phone call, e-mail and internet
connection was useless for the prosecution of crime and totally

In June 2010, more than 100 organisations (including EDRi) from 23
European countries sent a letter to EU Commissioners Malmström, Reding and
Kroes asking for the data retention law to be repealed and be replaced by “a
system of expedited preservation and targeted collection of traffic data”.

Communications data retention puts human lives at risk! (8.10.2010),en/

Data retention boosts crime, says civil liberties group (8.10.2010)

Liberties Groups’ Report (only in German, 13.10.2010)

Civil society calls for an end to compulsory telecommunications data
retention (28.06.2010),en/

EDRi-gram: German civil society calls for a definitive end to telecom data
retention (21.04.2010)