Data retention another step closer

Today the LIBE Committee – that’s the committee of MEPs who have been ‘looking after’ the data retention directive – voted on whether or not they liked the amendments that have been proposed in the backroom meetings which have been going on between the various interested parties in Brussels. Thirty three MEPs voted to accept the changes, eight voted against and five abstained. As the the LIBE Committee is responsible for guiding the legislation through the law making process, their amendments will define for a large part what the final directive will look like when it’s placed before the European Parliament as a whole. This, you will recall, will only happen once, in mid-December. The current state of play is this:

  1. Telcos and ISPs must retain fixed and mobile traffic data, including location data and internet log-in log-off, for 6-12 months.
  2. E-mail and VoIP logging has been rejected by the Green Party MEPs, but will probably be re-introduced as a Parliament-wide amendment when the legislation comes out of committee.
  3. Governments may, but don’t have to, introduce retention for failed caller attempts. (This is an important concession to telephone companies, as they may not currently be logging this information.)
  4. The list of ‘serious’ criminal offences has been defined as being those crimes listed for use in the EU Arrest Warrant legislation.

Point four is a genuine concern. The arrest warrant list includes “piracy” which, if IPRED2 passes (which criminalises copyright infringement) could possibly include aiding/abetting/inciting to filesharing. The basic issues about privacy, proportionality and the contravention of the European Convention on Human Rights have not changed. The entire directive should be rejected, and once again I would urge you to email your MEP and ask them to vote against data retention.