14.12.05

EU adopts Big Brother directive, ignores industry and civil society



The European Parliament today adopted a directive that will create the largest monitoring database in the world, tracking all communications within the EU. "From today, all EU citizens are to be tracked and monitored like common criminals," says Pieter Hintjens, president of the FFII.

The Data Retention Directive was passed by 378 votes to 197, following deals between the Council and the leaders of the two largest parties in Parliament, the EPP-ED (Conservatives) and the PSE (Socialists). The Rapporteur for the directive, Alexander Alvaro (Liberals) had his name removed from the report in protest.

Jonas Maebe of the FFII says: "Among other harsh measures, the directive mandates recording of the source and destination of all emails you send and every call you make, and your location and movement during mobile phone calls. Additionally, the directive says nothing about who has to pay for all this logging, which will significantly distort the internal telecommunications market."

"Moreover, the directive disregards how Internet protocols work. For example, tracking Internet telephony calls is generally impossible without closely watching the content of all data packets. The reason is that such connections are not necessarily set up via a central server which can perform the necessary logging. On top of that you have techniques like tunneling (VPN's) which make it simply impossible to look at the content", he adds.

The gathered data can be made available without special warrants, and without limit to certain types of crime. There will be no independent evaluation, and no extra privacy and no specific security safeguards. The data will be retained for periods ranging from 6 months up to any duration a member state can convince the Commission of.

Hartmut Pilch of the FFII says: "This outcome proves that we have to remain vigilant at all times and work on every relevant directive from the start. Even now, the planned IPRED2 directive, also unanimously condemned by industry and civil society, threatens to turn everyone caught by a patent into a criminal."

Working to an European ISP, my hint is that this won't be implemented, at least not anytime soon. More than all the other stuff it was said about the issue, I wonder who will give ISP's the storage power needed to such a stupid directive.

If you want to know more about this, take a look at FFII's Press Release.