1 April 2011

Austria’s Data Protection Council On Data Retention – A Déjà Vu


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Who remembers the cat scene in The Matrix?
The scene depicted Neo, Morpheus & the other good guys convinced that they had already witnessed or experienced a certain situation. What do we usually call this experience or state of mind?
Déjà vu, right?
Unlike the most cases of a déjà vu where no determination can be made as to whether the circumstances of the previous encounter were imagined or true, in that particular scene from The Matrix the cat indeed passed the door twice.
The good guys instinctively felt that something was wrong. And their feelings did not betray them: something was wrong indeed!

Data retention is The Matrix in real life

In a previous blog post I did already compared the laws on data retention with the bad guys’ attempt to maintain total control in The Matrix.
When I recently read that the Austrian data protection council had again disfavoured the then current bill on data retention in a critical statement, it felt like a déjà vu to me.

What does the council criticise?

1. The council has some very serious doubts as to data retention bill’s compatibility with Art 8 of both, the European Convention on Human Rights and the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union.

2. While the council acknowledges that law enforcement authorities should be equipped by sufficient powers in order to fight organized crime and that access to communication data might be helpful in such context, it opines that such powers must be applied only to concrete occasions and be subject to specific controls.

Data stormphoto © 2006 Dave Herholz | more info (via: Wylio)

3. The council further urges the European Commission to eventually conduct the evaluation owing to Article 14 of the Directive 2006/24/EC.

4. In the event that Commission’s evaluation results in a review of the data retention Directive which recommends the implementation of lesser onerous measures, the council suggests that the legislature opt for the so-called quick-freeze procedure. The latter recently gained a measure of popularity because of its submission to public debate in Germany.

5. Last but not least and given the “informative value” of retained data, the council calls upon the legislature to maintain the highest possible data security standards when transposing the Directive.

Will this statement halt the transposition of data retention in Austria?

Unfortunately, it will not, because the data protection council has advisory and, hence limited, powers.
Its statement is nevertheless significant – it once again makes it very clear that data retention is at odds with fundamental human rights, and that the politicians are very well aware of this fact.

What can a single individual do?

First of all inform yourself and inform others who are not yet familiar with data retention. And since data retention is considered avoidable – learn how to either avoid it or make it appear obsolete.

Thoughts?

Did I miss an important point? What else would you suggest?

 

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