December 09, 2005 | Suw Charman Anderson

Fighting data retention

Word coming out of the EU Parliament is not good for data retention. It seems that the deals have been struck, agreements reached, and ranks closed. The Council's proposal is being voted on by MEPs on 13 December. One hope is an amendment by Swedish MEP Charlotte Cedershiold which will reinstate reimbursement of costs to the industry. This will, at least, help protect you from large rises in your telephone/internet bills. It will also go against the Council's wishes, which means that if it gains support they will almost certainly demand a second reading in the European Parliament to get exactly the wording they wish. MEPs travel to Strasbourg on Monday; Friday is their last day in Brussels, and your last chance to contact them via WriteToThem. If you've been in communication with your MEP previously, and you have their telephone contact details, call them instead of writing and remind them of your interest. Tell them:

  • Data retention is a sweeping proposal, with ramification for the telecommunications industry, internet users and providers, and civil liberties. It should not be rushed through in one reading to suit the current Presidency.
  • At the very least, consumers should not have to bear the brunt of costs, and Cedershiold's amendment should be supported.
  • Urge your MEP to consider all the communications he or she has received on this topic, and vote with his or her conscience, not with what the major party blocs have decided.

To keep up to date with what's happening, visit the Data Retention is No Solution wiki.

Comments (7)

  1. Alex Riddell:
    Dec 15, 2005 at 07:57 PM

    I can't say I'm surprised that the measure was passed. As with lots of activity in the EU, there has been little coverage of this in the mainstream media, which was presumably the reason for it being raised as an EU measure in the first place. Re: Phil's comments above, writing to complain about a measure and then not even getting the courtesy of a reply from an MEP does tend to give one an even more jaundiced view on who and what they think they are representing. I rather like the suggestion of creating a list of who isn't bothered enough to reply.

  2. Neil Dunbar:
    Dec 16, 2005 at 07:01 PM

    In reply to Alex, you can add Glyn Ford MEP to the list (one of the South West Labour MEPs). I wrote to him on this subject (not even opposing the measure entirely, but merely asking for assurance that the retention and access to retained data would only be for extremely serious crimes such as terrorism) and got damn all by way of reply. I wouldn't even have minded "Dear Neil, go jump in a lake.", but got zip in reply. Maybe I shouldn't have been surprised.

  3. Watching Them, Watching Us:
    Dec 14, 2005 at 12:39 PM

    It looks as if the lobbying of MEPs has failed and they have passed this wretched directive:

    Bloomberg reports:
    EU Parliament Approves Phone-Data Storage for Anti-Terror Fight

  4. Phil:
    Dec 09, 2005 at 03:53 PM

    I will do as you suggest Suw, but I had something more ongoing in mind. Presumably people who use this site will be contacting their MEP's, and MP's for that matter, as and when other open rights issues arise and I just thought it would be useful to have a record of responses to previous questions put to them.

  5. Phil:
    Dec 09, 2005 at 02:11 PM

    Does anyone think there is any merit in collating all the replies received somewhere? Having emailed several MEP's for the London area, the replies received range for a rather dismissive "please contact so-and-so about this, he is the expert", to a stock press release and one genuinely encouraging reply.

    Seems to me if the folks on here are going to lobby effectively, the message needs to be pitched to the audience. There's no point everyone emailing those who are already adopting a favourable position, we're just going to piss them off. Equally, we need to make the message simple and easy to understand for those that don't *ahem* fully grasp the minutiae of the issue.

    The ones that really annoyed me, however, were the ones that just sent back what looked like boiler plate text. I realise they are busy, busy people but there is a fine line between sending out stock text due to time constraints and just dismissing their constituents out of hand. I'm sure that if they were aware that there was a list somewhere on the net demonstrating that they were just paying lip service to the whole representative of the people thing, they wouldn't be quite so dismissive in the future.

    Any thoughts?

  6. Suw Charman:
    Dec 09, 2005 at 03:31 PM

    Phil, why not put them on the Data Retention is No Solution wiki, link at bottom of article. I think it would be useful to see what MEPs are saying in response.

  7. Simon Gibbs:
    Dec 09, 2005 at 02:35 PM

    I was advised by one MEP to focus on Labour and Tory MEPs since they have lately moved in the wrong direction. I'm unable to do anymore letter writing today unfortunatley.

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