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June 19, 2014 | Elizabeth Knight

Data retention: why we have to keep the pressure on ISPs

In the last four hours, over 400 ORG supporters have contacted their ISPs to demand that they stop retaining customers' email, SMS, web and phone data. It's crucial that we keep up the pressure.

In April the Court of Justice of the EU ruled that the Data Retention Directive breached fundamental rights of privacy and protection of personal data. And yet the ISPs, on government advice, are continuing to store data.

ORG supporters' emails are an important first step in pressuring ISPs and the government. They must be made aware that customers care about this.

Emails to ISPs may also be used as a basis for formal complaints to the Information Commissioner's Office (the body that supervises data retention in the UK). In addition the high level of customer concern may be helpful as evidence in any legal action ORG might take against the government.

In our view there is no legal basis for the continuation of data retention. We believe the ISPs should be acting in their customers' interests and seeking clarity from the courts. At present they are passing the buck and hiding behind government advice to continue as usual. It is for the courts, not the government, to decide whether the UK Data Retention Regulations should continue to be applied.

Some ISPs are already sending automated responses to ORG supporters. Their responses illustrate our concerns.

Virgin Media's response says: “...We have also been in contact with government and with the Information Commissioner's Office following the ruling and the UK government's current position is that although the Directive was held to be invalid, our own Data Retention Regulations are still in force and we must comply with them until such time as they are struck down by a UK court.

Sky's response says: “It is our understanding that the Data Retention (EC Directive) Regulations 2009 remain in force within the UK. We will therefore continue to meet any obligations as set out in those Regulations, and retain data in accordance with our data privacy notice...

It is vital that as many people as possible contact their ISP. ISPs need to know that this is an issue that matters to their customers. We can see from their replies that the ISPs are talking to the government. ISPs must have their customers' concerns at the forefront of their mind when they have these conversations. Your emails help that happen.

If you haven't yet contacted your ISP – Please contact them to register your concern!

If you've already contacted your ISP - thanks for your help. Please keep us updated by sending any replies to campaign-support@openrightsgroup.org

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