|Communications data retention: Civil liberties NGO slams EU Advocate General's opinion (17 Mar 2014)|
Prior to the EU Court's decision on the blanket retention of
communications data ("meta data") German civil liberties NGO "AK Vorrat"
strongly criticizes the opinion
delivered by Advocate General Cruz Villalón. Villalón's recommendation
to uphold the blanket collection of all communications data with minor
restrictions failed to address "several salient issues", was not in line
with the generally recognised definition of "data processing" and
"lacks a sufficient analysis of the severe implications of blanket data
retention on the freedom of expression and information on-line".
In a 29-page analysis, AK Vorrat raises three major objections to the opinion:
Uli Breuer of the German Working Group on Data Retention (AK Vorrat) comments: "Blanket and indiscriminate telecommunications data retention is the most privacy invasive instrument and the least popular surveillance measure ever adopted by the EU. The Data Retention Directive mandates the indiscriminate collection of sensitive information about social contacts (including business contacts), movements and the private lives (e.g. contacts with physicians, lawyers, workers councils, psychologists, helplines, etc.) of 500 million Europeans that are not suspicious of any wrongdoing. The EU Court of Justice finally needs to put an end to this! The EU should target suspects of serious crime instead of placing all 500 million EU citizens under general suspicion."
According to AK Vorrat, blanket and indiscriminate telecommunications data retention has proven harmful to many sectors of society: "It disrupts confidential communications in areas that legitimately require non-traceability (e.g. contacts with psychotherapists, physicians, lawyers, workers councils, marriage counsellors, drug abuse counsellors, helplines), thus endangering the physical and mental health of people in need of help as well as of people around them. The inability of journalists to electronically receive information through untraceable channels compromises the freedom of the press, which damages preconditions of our open and democratic society. Blanket data retention creates risks of abuse and loss of confidential information relating to our contacts, movements and interests. Communications data are particularly susceptible to producing unjustified suspicions and subjecting innocent citizens to criminal investigation."
The EU Court of Justice has not yet announced a date for giving its judgement. The proceedings have been initiated by Digital Rights Ireland and the Austrian privacy NGO "AK Vorrat Österreich".References:
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