EDRI calls on European Parliament to reject data retention plan

By EDRi · June 6, 2005

EDRI press release, Monday 6 June 2005

European Digital Rights (EDRI) has sent an open letter today to the European Parliament calling for a rejection of the European ministers of Justice and Home Affairs plan to keep all telephone and internet traffic data.

Tomorrow, the European Parliament will vote in plenary on a report by Parliament member Alexander Alvaro on the mandatory data retention plan. Alvaro’s report concludes that the proposal is disproportionate. The report also questions the necessity, effectiveness and high costs for industry and telecommunication users. EDRI asks the members of Parliament to adopt Alvaro’s report.

Data retention is an invasive tool that interferes with the private lives of all 450 million people in the European Union. The proposal from the Justice and Home Affairs to keep traffic data will reveal who has been calling and e-mailing whom, which websites they have visited, and even where people were with their mobile phones. The ministers want to store these data for a period of one to four years.

EDRI believes that telecommunications data retention is a policy that expands powers of surveillance in an unprecedented manner. It simultaneously revokes many of safeguards in European human rights instruments, such as the Data Protection Directives and the European Convention on Human Rights.

No research has been conducted anywhere in Europe into the need and necessity of creating such a large-scale database containing such sensitive data. Many legal reviews of the plan have pointed out that it lacks legal basis. The retention of telecommunication data will have a grave impact on the privacy of telecommunication users and cause high costs for the industry. Studies by the European Commission, the European Parliament and the legal service of the ministers themselves have pointed out that only the European Commission can propose such a possible measure, with full co-decision rights for the Parliament, in a full democratic procedure.

The open letter to the European Parliament has been signed by EDRI, an international not-for-profit association of 17 digital civil rights organisations from 11 European countries, Privacy International, an international non-governmental organisation with members in over 30 countries and Statewatch, an organisation that monitors civil liberties in Europe with correspondents in 14 European countries.

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