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Privacy on the Net: EU Data Retention Directive

 
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freedomfiles



Joined: 05 Feb 2007
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 21, 2007 5:23 pm    Post subject: Privacy on the Net: EU Data Retention Directive Reply with quote

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Europe's plan to track phone and Net use
February 20, 2007
http://news.com.com/2100-7348_3-6160521.html

A proposed law would require companies to keep detailed data about people's Internet and phone use.

PARIS--European governments are preparing legislation to require companies to keep detailed data about people's Internet and phone use that goes beyond what the countries will be required to do under a European Union (data retention) directive.

In Germany, a proposal from the Ministry of Justice would essentially prohibit using false information to create an e-mail account, making the standard Internet practice of creating accounts with pseudonyms illegal.

A draft law in the Netherlands would likewise go further than the European Union requires, in this case by requiring phone companies to save records of a caller's precise location during an entire mobile phone conversation.

Even now, Internet service providers in Europe divulge customer information--which they normally keep on hand for about three months, for billing purposes--to police officials with legally valid orders on a routine basis, said Peter Fleischer, the Paris-based European privacy counsel for Google. The data concerns how the communication was sent and by whom but not its content.

But law enforcement officials argued after the terrorist bombings in Spain and Britain that they needed better and longer data storage from companies handling Europe's communications networks.

European Union countries have until 2009 to put the Data Retention Directive into law, so the proposals seen now are early interpretations. But some people involved in the issue are concerned about a shift in policy in Europe, which has long been a defender of individuals' privacy rights.

Under the proposals in Germany, consumers theoretically could not create fictitious e-mail accounts, to disguise themselves in online auctions, for example. Nor could they use a made-up account to use for receiving commercial junk mail. While e-mail aliases would not be banned, they would have to be traceable to the actual account holder.

"This is an incredibly bad thing in terms of privacy, since people have grown up with the idea that you ought to be able to have an anonymous e-mail account," Fleischer said. "Moreover, it's totally unenforceable and would never work."

Fleischer said the law would have to require some kind of identity verification, "like you may have to register for an e-mail address with your national ID card."

Jörg Hladjk, a privacy lawyer at Hunton & Williams, a Brussels law firm, said that might also mean that it could become illegal to pay cash for prepaid cellphone accounts. The billing information for regular cellphone subscriptions is already verified.

"It's ironic, because Germany is one of the countries in Europe where people talk the most about privacy," said Fleischer. "In terms of consciousness of privacy in general, I would put Germany at the extreme end."

He said it was not clear that any European law would apply to e-mail providers based in the United States, like Google, so anyone who needed an unverified e-mail address--for political, commercial or philosophical reasons--could still use Gmail, Yahoo or Hotmail addresses.

"It's going to be difficult to know which law applies," Hladjk said. Google requires only two pieces of information to open a Gmail account--a name and a password--and the company does not try to determine whether the name is authentic.

In the Netherlands, the proposed extension of the law on phone company records to all mobile location data "implies surveillance of the movement of large amounts of innocent citizens," the Dutch Data Protection Agency has said. The agency concluded in January that the draft disregarded privacy protections in the European Convention on Human Rights. Similarly, the German technology trade association Bitkom said the draft there violated the German Constitution.

Internet and telecommunications industry associations raised objections when the directive was being debated, but at that time their concerns were for the length of time the data would have to be stored and how the companies would be compensated for the cost of gathering and keeping the information. The directive ended up leaving both decisions in the hands of national governments, setting a range of six months to two years. The German draft settled on six months, while in Spain the proposal is for a year, and in the Netherlands it is 18 months.

"There are not a lot of people in Germany who support this draft entirely," said Christian Spahr, a spokesman for Bitkom. "But there are others who are more critical of it than we are."

Entire contents, Copyright © 2007 The New York Times. All rights reserved.

US could access EU data retention information
12.05.2006 - 09:50 CET | By Helena Spongenberg
http://www.rinf.com/columnists/news/us-could-access-eu-data-retention-information

US authorities can get access to EU citizens' data on phone calls, sms' and emails, giving a recent EU data-retention law much wider-reaching consequences than first expected, reports Swedish daily Sydsvenskan.

The EU data retention bill, passed in February after much controversy and with implementation tabled for late 2007, obliges telephone operators and internet service providers to store information on who called who and who emailed who for at least six months, aimed at fighting terrorism and organised crime.

A week later on 2-3 March, EU and US representatives met in Vienna for an informal high level meeting on freedom, security and justice where the US expressed interest in the future storage of information.

The US delegation to the meeting "indicated that it was considering approaching each [EU] member state to ensure that the data collected on the basis of the recently adopted Directive on data retention be accessible to them," according to the notes of the meeting.

Representatives from the Austrian EU presidency and from the European Commission said that these data were "accessible like any other data on the basis of the existing ... agreements" the notes said.

The EU representatives added that the commission would convene an expert meeting on the issue.

Under current agreements, if the FBI, for example, is interested in a group of EU citizens from a member state who are involved in an investigation, the bureau can ask for help with a prosecutor in that member state.

The national prosecutor then requests telephone operators and internet service providers for information, which is then passed on to the FBI.

This procedure opens the way for US authorities to get access under the EU data-retention law, according to the Swedish newspaper.

In the US itself meanwhile, fury has broken out in the US congress after reports revealed that the Bush administration covertly collected domestic phone records of tens of millions of US citizens since the attacks in New York on 11 September 2001.

President George Bush did not deny the allegations in a television statement last night, but insisted that his administration had not broken any laws.

Big Brother rules denounced as 'appalling'
Thursday, December 15 2005
by Charlie Taylor
http://www.electricnews.net/frontpage/news-9658532.html

The European Parliament and data retention: Chronicle of a 'sell-out' foretold ?
Professor Steve Peers, University of Essex
Statewatch Analysis
http://www.statewatch.org/news/2005/dec/sp_dataret_dec05.pdf

ISPs aghast at passing of EU data directive
By John Kennedy
15.12.2005
http://www.siliconrepublic.com/news/news.nv?storyid=single5817

Arguments continue on eve of data retention D-day
13.12.2005 - 19:36 CET | By Teresa Kochler
http://web.archive.org/web/20051216074713/http://euobserver.com/9/20540
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