Thursday, December 22, 2005

Data Retention Directive

Data Retention Directive. I sent this Email to Simon Coveney and Brian Crowley as they are my representatives in Europe. I couldn't find Kathy Signots Email. The basis of this email came from T.J McIntyre and details about the directive can be found there.
As a constituent of yours I would like to voice my opposition to the Data Retention Directive. The reasons I oppose this can be summaries below. 1. This Directive invades the privacy of all Europeans. The Directive calls for the indiscriminate collection and retention of data on a wide range of Europeans' activities. Never has a policy been introduced that mandates the mass storage of information for the mere eventuality that it may be of interest to the State at some point in the future. 2. The proposed Directive is illegal. It contravenes the European Convention on Human Rights by proposing the indiscriminate and disproportionate recording of sensitive personal information. Political, legal, medical, religious and press communications would be logged, exposing such information to use and abuse. 3. The Directive threatens consumer confidence. More than 58,000 Europeans have already signed a petition opposing the Directive. A German poll revealed that 78% of citizens were opposed to a retention policy. The Directive will have a chilling effect on communications activity as consumers may avoid participating in entirely legal transactions for fear that this will be logged for years. 4. The Directive burdens EU industry and harms global competitiveness. Retention of all this data creates additional costs of hundreds of millions of Euros every year. These burdens are placed on EU industry alone. The U.S., Canada and the Council of Europe have already rejected retention. 5. The Directive requires more invasive laws. Once adopted, this Directive will prove not to be the ultimate solution against serious crimes. There will be calls for additional draconian measures including: * the prior identification of all those who communicate, thus requiring ID cards at cybercafes, public telephone booths, wireless hotspots, and identification of all pre-paid clients; * the banning of all international communications services such as webmail (e.g. Hotmail and Gmail) and blocking the use of non-EU internet service providers and advanced corporate services. I would be interested to know where you stand on this issue. Looking foward to hearing from you
Theses are the replies. from Brian Crowley
Thank you for your email regarding the voting on the ALVARO Report on Data Retention. As you may be aware the two largest political groups in the Parliament, the EPP and PSE, agreed a deal on a compromise package of amendments which forced the Rapporteur, Mr Alvaro to withdraw his name from the report. The main points with regard to the amendments which were adopted relate to the type of data to be retained and this will not include the content of the data, also that the data will only be provided to competent national authorities as laid down by national legislation, and the crimes for which data is to be sought must be defined by member states in their national legislation also. Yours is one of the many letters I have received on this matter and I should point out that the law at present on Data Retention in Ireland is not affected or impacted by this legislation. You may also know that my colleagues and I abstained on the final vote as we believe that the issue should have been dealt with on the third pillar and not the first pillar which is also the position of the Irish government, however, this was a minority viewpoint. Regarding your second point, there has been no case taken to the European Court of Human Rights regarding this directive, and indeed the Irish legislation which was passed this year wasn't challenged in the Irish Courts either on the question of contravention of human rights. Thank you for taking the time to write to me. Kind regards Is mise le meas Brian Crowley M.E.P. President U.E.N. Group Leader F.F. Group in Europe
From Simon Coveney
Thank you for writing to me and expressing your views in relation to the vote on data retention. I am very much aware of the concern surrounding this proposed Directive. I would like to briefly outline my views to you in relation to this important debate. When voting last week I voted in favour of the majority of the proposed new legislation but I abstained in the final vote on the resolution as a whole and I will explain my reasoning to you. The position of the Irish Government is that this legislation should be dealt with as part of the so-called Third Pillar, meaning that each Member State should legislate individually in this area as opposed to introducing pan-European legislation. The Irish Government is concerned that the current approach may not be legally sound and may even make a legal challenge to the decision. It is important to stress the point that Irish legislation is currently tougher as regards data retention than this proposed legislation. Our national legislation provides for a retention period of three years in the case of telephonic data whereas this proposed legislation stipulates a much shorter period permitted for the retention of data. Ireland has maintained that it has been necessary to retain data for this length of time due to security concerns we have had to deal with. I, too, am uncomfortable with the principle of data retention and certainly do not want to move towards a big brother system either but I do believe that limited data retention is now a necessity. I am in favour of a common position between Member States of the European Union as an effective way to deal with security threats. I think it will give governments and police important assistance in fighting serious crime and terrorism. I did not want to prevent this piece of legislation but rather to register my concern and question the legal basis of this proposed piece of legislation. I would prefer not to have to go down this road at all but I do see it as one of the unfortunate necessities in combating serious crime and terrorism. It would be farcical to have long periods of data retention in Ireland and shorter periods of data retention across the EU. Should you have further questions or comments in relation to this matter do not hesitate to contact me at this address. Best regards, Simon Coveney

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