Every detail of European Internet use to be tracked

by Andy Oram

Related link: http://www.vibe.at/aktionen/200205/data_retention_30may2002.html



Related link: http://www.vibe.at/aktionen/200205/data_retention_30may2002.html



The European Parliament, over the protests of dozens of civil liberties organizations and thousands of petitioners, has voted for a proposal that would require ISPs and telephone companies to retain huge amounts of transitory and personal data obtained from users for long periods of time. Conceivably, the radical politician you criticized in email could come back after the next election--now the head of a distinctly anti-democratic regime--to arrest you.



Precisely the fears of such a Nazi-like resurgence originally led European countries from the 1970s onward to pass laws restricting the rights of governments and companies to obtain and keep data on individuals. This culminated in 1995 with a historic Data Protection Directive.



Under the cloak of the same anti-terrorist rhetoric that has led the United States and a dozen other countries to pass laws infringing on civil liberties--a trend documented in the
annual report
recently released by Amnesty International--the European Union is now poised to throw these protections overboard, and to track and record the behavior of residents throughout the continent. Retention periods vary from one to three or even up to seven years.



Even if you don't live in Europe, of course, you will be caught in this barbed-wire net if you exchange any data with someone in one of the monitoring countries. Material retained could include the actual contents of email, lists of Web sites and chat rooms visited, locations of mobile phones used, and much more.



A large number of organizations (including one that I'm associated with, Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility) signed a
letter to the EP opposing their proposal and pointing out that it flagrantly ran against fundamental conventions, like the European Convention on Human Rights of 1950 and the historic Data Protection Directive mentioned earlier.



The European Parliament proposal is not law, although in theory each member country is required to pass a law conforming to the proposal. A lot could happen between the passage of the proposal (which was widely opposed by leftist parties in several countries) and actual legislation.

What will be the effects of the EP proposal?



What will be the effects of the EP proposal?