EU data retention directive should be scrapped, says ALDE

The European Commission adopted on 18th April 2011 a report on progress in the implementation of the EU Data Retention Directive (Directive 2006/24/EC), which was approved amid much controversy in 2006. Yet the European legislation has not been uniformly transposed into national laws across Europe, says the ALDE group in the European Parliament, and concerns about the storage, retrieval and use of personal data remain.

The EU Data Retention Directive requires EU member states to ensure that telecommunications operators retain certain categories of data (for identifying identity and details of phone calls made and emails sent) to facilitate the investigation and detection of serious crime. Whilst member states agree the usefulness of the data in fighting terrorism and serious cross-border crime, its very existence places in jeopardy many of the fundamental principles of data protection and personal privacy.

“The application of the directive has been disastrous,” says Alexander Alvaro (FDP, Germany), who was EP rapporteur on the directive five years ago. “We are facing a legal smorgasbord of data retention in the European Union. The Commission has admitted that neither the scope, nor access, duration of retention, data security, statistical evaluation, nor costs have been effectively harmonised among member states to date.”

“In certain countries the coastguard can access the retained data, in others a written request is deemed sufficient to look into personal data of European citizens. Also the number of access requests differs considerably. Polish authorities, for example, are responsible for about half of all the two million requests for access to retained data in Europe.”

“What is more there is no statistical proof for the benefit of the Directive. In fact, those countries that have not implemented the Directive have been just as capable of solving crimes with existing traffic data. The Commission now even questions the proportionality of the Directive while stating that it provides only limited legal certainty for EU operators.”

“In the assessment of the directive, required by article 14, the Commission should conclude that no amount of amendment will improve the performance of a directive that represented a knee-jerk reaction to a climate of heightened security threats following the Madrid and London bombings. Data retention is, by definition, an erosion of our civil liberties and the only conclusion to draw is the deletion of the directive from the statute books.”

For more information, contact ALDE press dept.:
Corlett, Neil – Tel:+32 2 284 20 77 Mob:+32 478 78 22 84
Terzi, Federica – Tel:+32 2 283 23 24 Mob:+32 494 18 88 31