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<nettime> FIPR welcomes Commissioners' rejection of data retention

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---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Mon, 16 Sep 2002 14:32:20 +0100
From: Richard Clayton <listmaster@admin.fipr.org>
To: bulletin@admin.fipr.org
Subject: FIPR-Bulletin: FIPR welcomes Commissioners' rejection of data

You have received this message from the FIPR Bulletin mailing list run by
the Foundation for Information Policy Research        http://www.fipr.org/

FIPR Press Release:

FOR IMMEDIATE USE: 16 September 2002

FIPR welcomes Commissioners' rejection of data retention

The Foundation for Information Policy Research (FIPR) welcomes the
recent statement from Europe's Data Protection Commissioners rejecting
the current proposals for mandatory data retention by phone companies
and ISPs.

The UK and other EU governments have put forward proposals to force ISPs
and phone companies to stockpile many years of customer records, on the
off-chance they will be useful for police surveillance. This data would
include catalogues of web sites visited, records of e-mail recipients,
lists of telephone numbers dialled, and the geographical location of
mobile phones at all times they were switched on.

Following their meeting in Cardiff last week, the Commissioners have
"grave doubt as to the legitimacy and legality of such broad measures".
They are also worried about the "excessive costs" to telephone and
Internet companies, and note the absence of any similar measures in the
United States.

The Commissioners reiterated their view that "such retention would be an
improper invasion of the fundamental rights guaranteed to individuals",
and commented that "systematic retention of all kinds of traffic data
for a period of one year or more would be clearly disproportionate."

This is a particularly timely warning for the UK, where the government
is still attempting to implement the December 2001 Anti-Terrorism Crime
and Security Act. The voluntary scheme in Section 101 is now widely seen
to be impossible to implement in a lawful manner and the Home Office is
known to be considering moving to compulsory measures.

With mounting concern over the costs involved, the Government has been
watering down the timescales for retention, with six months being
suggested and just four days for web site data. However, John Abbott,
the Director General of the National Criminal Intelligence Service
(NCIS) proposed in a Guardian interview (Sat 14 Sep) that traffic data
should be stored for two years, though this is still a somewhat of a
retreat from his August 2000 proposals for data warehouses containing
seven years worth of information.

FIPR fully agrees with the Data Protection Commissioners that mandatory
data retention is an entirely disproportionate invasion of British
citizens' privacy. FIPR also notes that the enormous costs of this data
retention will immediately fall on consumers as higher bills.

Ian Brown, Director of FIPR, commented: "Records of the web sites we
visit, who we communicate with and where we go with our mobile phones
paint a very detailed picture of our lives. Forcing phone and Internet
companies to retain this data on all of their customers for years is a
huge threat to the privacy of us all. This should not only be a debate
about policing, but the dangers posed by having this treasure trove of
information available for others to access, legitimately or otherwise."

Contacts for enquiries:

Ian Brown
Foundation for Information Policy Research
07970 164 526

Notes for editors

1. The Foundation for Information Policy Research (www.fipr.org), is a
   non-profit think-tank for Internet and Information Technology policy,
   governed by an independent Board of Trustees with an Advisory Council
   of experts.

2. The Commissioners statement can be viewed at:


3. The August 2000 NCIS proposals for data warehousing are at:


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