European Data Protection Supervisor suggests the EU should scrap the Data Retention Directive and start again…
You have to feel sorry for Peter Hustinx. He’s the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS): ‘the European guardian of personal data protection’. He tries to do his job. Sadly, the rest of the European Union simply ignores him. Take the Data Retention Directive (that telecoms companies must keep details of where you go on the internet and who you talk to on the telephone “for a period of not less than six months and not more than two years from the date of the communication”)…
That’s more of an invasion of privacy than we realise until we start seriously thinking about it. Basically, it’s appalling. And that’s more or less what Mr Hustinx thinks. In his recently published “Opinion of the European Data Protection Supervisor on the Evaluation report from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament on the Data Retention Directive (Directive 2006/24/EC)”, he not merely says it doesn’t pass muster, he goes so far as to suggest it be scrapped and the politicians start again from scratch.
On the basis of the Evaluation report it may be concluded that the Data Retention Directive does not meet the requirements set out by the rights to privacy and data protection, for the following reasons:
- the necessity of data retention as provided for in the Data Retention Directive has not been sufficiently demonstrated;
- data retention could have been regulated in a less privacy-intrusive way;
- the Data Retention Directive lacks foreseeability.
The EDPS calls upon the Commission to consider seriously all options in the impact assessment including the possibility of repealing the Directive, either per se or combined with a proposal for an alternative, more targeted EU measure.
Can there be a more damning opinion?
Will the politicians listen.
Most certainly not.
As a Brit I am accustomed to living with a grudging respect for Germany and the Germans. But I’d like to go on record with profound respect for Germany’s decision to abandon nuclear energy. That’s the best news I’ve heard this year. Now we just need our own government to display similar bravery in the face of vested interest.
And still the inordinate crass hypocrisy of our European politicians has the power to amaze me…
Last Friday, Neelie Kroes blogged about the e-G8 and G8 meetings.
Plus my strong commitment to freedom of expression is well-known – and I’ve already given a clear signal on the “no disconnect strategy“.
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What is Neelie’s ‘no disconnect strategy’?. It is this:
I am very concerned by what is going on in countries like Egypt, Tunisia and Libya and I think people around the world have the right to be connected. This is why I am promoting a “No Disconnect Strategy” for the Internet. I asked my services to explore how civil society organisations and individuals can be assisted to circumvent arbitrary internet and communications shut-downs by repressive regimes, where we have concluded that an authoritarian regime’s actions are illegitimate. Our experts are working on this very important issue right now. I will keep you updated.
The “No Disconnect Strategy”
Think about this. She has asked her experts to explore ways in which she can help rebels ‘circumvent arbitrary internet and communications shut-downs’. This may be ‘arbitrary’ to her, but in the countries concerned it is the law of the land. She is setting herself up as being morally superior than other cultures, governments and societies; and she is seeking to interfere in the internal politics of other sovereign states. (I’m not criticising; I’m just saying that’s what she’s doing.)
At the same time, in the UK, a local council used a Californian court to force Twitter to disclose personal information on one UK user. I do not blame Twitter for handing over the information. Faced with a court order, it had no choice. However, I have huge concern over both the South Tyneside Council that sought it and the Californian court that ordered it. As far as I understand, the anonymous Mr Monkey was accused of being (not proven to be), just accused of being, libellous. On that basis, one of accusation only, Twitter was forced to give up private personal data.
Back to Neelie Kroes, whose “strong commitment to freedom of expression is well-known”. Well, knowing who someone is, is a first step to being able to remove them. Neelie wants to be able to help ‘individuals’ oppressed by ‘repressive regimes, where we have concluded that an authoritarian regime’s actions are illegitimate’.
OK, Neelie – that means the UK. Our government via the police is repressive; they ‘coral’ peaceful demonstrators illegally; they use unnecessary force (even killing an innocent passer-by); they watch us with more surveillance cameras than anywhere else in the world; they use Geotime surveillance software to track people (“This latest tool could also be used in a wholly invasive way and could fly in the face of the role of the police to facilitate rather than impede the activities of democratic protesters,” said Sarah McSherry, a partner at Christian Khan Solicitors, representing several protesters in cases against the Metropolitan police); and they have the world’s largest illegal DNA database of innocent people.
So, Neelie – never mind Libya and Syria and the Yemen: what are you going to do to safeguard the British people from the British government and the British police?