Monday, May 2, 2011

EU data retention law blasted on privacy issues

The European Union's data retention law has come under scrutiny, with a new report saying that it poses significant risks to individuals' right to privacy. 

The European Commission published its report on the Data Retention Directive on Monday and concluded that "retained telecommunications data play an important role in the protection of the public against the harm caused by serious crime." However, transposing this directive into law has proved difficult in many E.U. member states and the resulting uneven playing field has created difficulties for telecommunications service providers.


Under the directive, telecom companies must retain the data necessary for identifying the source (sender), destination (recipient), date, time and duration, type, equipment and, for mobile telephony, the location of the equipment. This applies to e-mail as well as phone calls and text messages. This information must be available to be handed over to national police on a case-by-case basis.

However the text of the Data Retention Directive does not in itself guarantee that data is stored, retrieved and used in line with the right to privacy and protection of personal data, according to critics. As a result, courts in Germany, the Czech Republic and Romania, found that national laws transposing the rules were unconstitutional. The three countries are currently trying to work out how to comply with the directive while still maintaining privacy rights.

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