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European Data Retention Rule Could Violate Fundamental EU Law 61

Posted by samzenpus
from the listen-to-the-law dept.
An anonymous reader writes in with a story about the Constitutional Court of Austria objecting to the EU's data retention law. "The European Union's data retention law could breach fundamental E.U. law because its requirements result in an invasion of citizens' privacy, according to the Constitutional Court of Austria, which has asked the European Court of Justice (ECJ) to determine the directive's validity. The primary problem with the data retention law is that it almost exclusively affects people in whom government or law enforcement have no prior interest. But authorities use the data for investigations and are informed about people's personal lives, the court said, and there is a risk that the data can be abused. 'We doubt that the E.U. Data Retention Directive is really compatible with the rights that are guaranteed by the E.U. Charter of Fundamental Rights,' Gerhart Holzinger, president of the Constitutional Court of Austria said in a statement."
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European Data Retention Rule Could Violate Fundamental EU Law

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 20, 2012 @04:18AM (#42345605)

    It's worth remembering the history of these data retention laws. Basically Blair (as a proxy for Bush) pushed these through when the UK had the EU Presidency in 2005:

    http://www.euractiv.com/infosociety/uk-presidency-revive-data-storag-news-214430

    UK had a terrorist attack in 2005, the police tracked one suspect by his phone. Blair then insisted on data retention, saying it was necessary to catch this guy in Italy and just happened to have a piece of legislation drafted already. The EU caved and let him push it through when he held the UK EU presidency.

    Oh course the logic is faulty, he WAS caught without the data retention directive, so it wasn't necessary. He was caught because he didn't know his phone could be tracked, post data retention, everyone knows it, so he would have thrown away the phone now.

    The basic idea that everyone is a future potential criminal to be monitored, is very powerful. Because the police never reveal the millions of times they've poked into people lives without finding anything, only the few times they poke into the lives of people and arrest a terrorist/pedo and occasionally the times they get caught snooping into a celebrities lives for Murdoch, but mostly only the pro-surveillance marketing stuff is ever visible, with the rest kept secret.

  • there's a precedent (Score:5, Interesting)

    by terec (2797475) on Thursday December 20, 2012 @04:25AM (#42345629)
    There was a similar conflict when the German government wanted to collect information about everybody's religion and communicate that to their employers and churches (ostensibly for taxation purposes). If that isn't a grave violation of privacy in a country that murdered millions because of their religious affiliation, I don't know what is. There was a lawsuit over it. The outcome? The EU declared it legal. Logic apparently goes out the window when European governments or large special interests themselves want to collect data on their citizens.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 20, 2012 @04:56AM (#42345737)

    I've been living in Austria for a little while now, and it makes me happy that the government here is not just filled with pushovers when it comes to the EU's lawyers churning out horrible, impractical, technically retarded ideas.

    Who knows what will actually be passed, though :-(. Austria is like a little chunk of paradise in the first world; I doubt people here realize how close they're coming to screwing it up. This is, after all, a country where every murder makes the evening news, police violence is completely unknown, people start getting perceptibly nervous when a train/streetcar/subway is 2 minutes late, and everyone likes to complain how tough life is while they're on their 5 weeks of paid vacation, collecting their 14-months-a-year paychecks, and living with dignity (not to mention enough disposable income to buy iPhones etc) even if they're cleaning toilets for a living.

    *deep breath*

    Point is, I hope that this actually prevents the law (and similar laws) from being passed, but I'm not exactly holding out hope that the Austrian government suddenly understands, on a deeply intuitive level, that these laws are actually dangerous and designed to subtly erode the freedom in a country.

  • by FriendlyLurker (50431) on Thursday December 20, 2012 @06:31AM (#42346009)

    It is also worth considering why our political and financial elite are so keen with data retention laws:

    National Intelligence Council's Global Trends 2030 report [bloomberg.com], quotes:

    "...major trends are the end of U.S. global dominance, the rising power of individuals against states, a rising middle class whose demands challenge governments, and a Gordian knot of water, food and energy shortages, according to the analysts."

    "[enormous caches of data] will enable governments to ' figure out and predict what people are going to be doing' and 'get more control over society,'

    We (collectively) pose a risk to the power of the 0.1% going forward, and bills like this are being pushed through in "democratic" nations worldwide to "get more control over society".

  • by peppepz (1311345) on Thursday December 20, 2012 @07:19AM (#42346147)
    My country, too, which is in western Europe, is known for letting wiretapping data fall into the wrong hands. We have had cases of politicians looking for information to use against their enemies, of wealthy people keeping an eye on competitors, employees or even customers, or hackers publishing stolen data which wasn't locked down carefully enough.

    Wiretapping is important, the evidence collected through it helped identify many criminals (and save many innocents). But it must be done only under the warrant of a judicial authority, and it should be performed only by trusted (and accountable) professionals. That's what the constitutions of many europen states say, and the reason they do is not because, back in the time when they were written, mass surveillance was not as easy as it is today.

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