The EU data retention directive aims at enabling the retracing of who contacted whom via telephone, mobile phone or e-mail for a period of 6 to 24 months. In the case of mobile calls or text messages via mobile phone, the user's location is also to be logged.
The data that is collected about the entire population allows our movements to be traced, any calls or communications with personal and business contacts to be monitored and removes privacy in our personal relationships. Information regarding the content of communications can be deduced relating to personal interests and the individual life circumstances of the persons communicating. Access to the data is granted to the police, public prosecutors, secret services and foreign states which hope for better prosecution of crimes.
Until 2007, telecommunications providers were permitted to retain only data required for billing purposes. This is not the case with location data and information regarding e-mails, for example. Customers could request the deletion of billing data as soon as the monthly invoice had been sent out. By using a flat rate, one could prevent the collection of traffic data altogether, which can be important for journalists, counselors and others.
What is the problem?
The current scheme regarding the collection of information about citizens' communication, movements and use of media constitute the greatest threat yet to our right to an independent and private life.
We are all suffering from data retention:
- Data retention constitutes an excessive invasion into our personal privacy.
- Data retention disrupts professional activities (e.g. in the fields of medicine, law, clergy, journalism) as well as political and business activities that rely on discretion. It ultimately harms our free society itself.
- Data retention doesn't prevent terrorism or crime. It is unnecessary and can easily be circumvented by criminals.
- Data retention violates the human right to privacy and informational self-determination.
- Data retention puts a financial strain both on businesses and consumers.
- Data retention discriminates against users of telephone, mobile phone and internet services in comparison to other means of communication. Data retention constitutes an excessive invasion into our personal privacy.
Most EU member states have introduced data retention legislation while some have no such legislation in place. The European Commission is currently reviewing the data retention directive. We are lobbying for the abolition of the EU requirements
regarding data retention.