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Data storage: privacy in the Internet and phone talks will be prohibited

Governments of France, Ireland, Sweden and the Great Britain presented the draft of the Framework decision of the European Union concerning the data storage. The author of the article gives a short review of the draft and the probable consequences of its approval.

Governments of France, Ireland, Sweden and the Great Britain presented the draft of the Framework decision of the European Union, which, in the case of adoption, would oblige to store the data of all telecommunication networks for the term from one to three years or longer, which term will be established by each member of the EU. The draft was endorsed on the Summit of the EU on 25 March 2004 as a part of the great amount of propositions concerning the struggle with terrorism after the explosions in Madrid.

We will give a brief review of this decision:

1) This proposition is much wider than the draft suggested in 2002; essential gaps in guaranteeing of civil rights remained there;

2) The data must be stored for the term from 12 to 36 months, and governments of each country may prolong this term;

3). Not only traffic data will be stored, but also the location data;

4). The number of crimes, which give grounds for taking such measures, was increased from 32 to infinity in comparison with the previous draft;

5). The grounds were extended from concrete investigation and persecution to «prevention and revelation» of crimes;

6). This proposition is even wider than the well-known US Patriot Act.

This proposition, as well as many others, by no means deters terrorism and will be used for «prevention, investigation and revelation of crimes, including terrorism, and persecution of criminals».

It is interesting that this proposition was presented not by services of national safety or special services of these countries, but by the national organs for fighting crime. In August 2002 the international organization «Statewatch» ascertained that the previous draft of the framework decision had been prepared by the government of Belgium.

The previous draft of this decision evoked a very adverse reaction. The European Union Commissar in charge of data storage made public the appeal, in which he defined this plan as «disproportionate interference in fundamental rights guaranteed to everybody by Article 8 of the European Convention on the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms and corroborated by the practices of the European Court of human rights». The international organization «Privacy International» agreed, in its analytical conclusion, that «the regime of data storage, which is introduced by the considered draft and emerges now in various forms in the countries-members of the EU, is illegal». The Coalition of the groups of civil society turned to the European Parliament with the appeal to protest against data storage and «to protect the most fundamental values of democratic society: the right for privacy, freedom of expression and presumption of innocence».

It should be also noted that the draft in question would result in significant expenses of telecommunication companies. The greatest commercial associations have already expressed their anxiety about the introduction of the plan of data storage. In summer 2003 the Coalition, including the ICC, UNICE and EICTA, as well as the INTUG stated: «Data storage is too obtrusive measure, which may be applied only when other, less obtrusive methods, such as the European regime of data preservation, would be used and their inefficiency would be proved».

Ben Hayes from the international organization «Statewatch» commented the appearance of the new draft in the following way:

«If this draft is designed for struggle with terrorism, then the measures envisaged by it should be focused exceptionally on the achievement of this goal. The fact that the considered draft is so wide that it covers all kinds of crimes proves that the EU government cynically uses the atmosphere after the events of 11 September and 11 March. It is necessary to investigate properly the specific menaces, but not to control everybody, creating the amount of data much greater that it would be needed for further use. Disclosure of the traders in children pornography is successfully realized without the application of the system of data storage. Thus, this draft is disproportionate to its purpose, it is not necessary and may not exist in democratic countries».

The additional information, texts of the corresponding EU documents, their legal analysis and history of the question may be found on the site of the international organization «Statewatch»:

Secretariat of the Council of Ukrainian human rights protecting organizations

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