EU adopts Big Brother directive, ignores industry and civil society

Strasbourg, 14 December 2005. The European Parliament today adopted a directive that will create the largest monitoring database in the world, tracking all communications within the EU. “From today, all EU citizens are to be tracked and monitored like common criminals,” says Pieter Hintjens, president of the FFII.

The Data Retention Directive was passed by 378 votes to 197, following deals between the Council and the leaders of the two largest parties in Parliament, the EPP-ED (Conservatives) and the PSE (Socialists). The Rapporteur for the directive, Alexander Alvaro (Liberals) had his name removed from the report in protest.

Jonas Maebe of the FFII says: “Among other harsh measures, the directive mandates recording of the source and destination of all emails you send and every call you make, and your location and movement during mobile phone calls. Additionally, the directive says nothing about who has to pay for all this logging, which will significantly distort the internal telecommunications market.”

“Moreover, the directive disregards how Internet protocols work. For example, tracking Internet telephony calls is generally impossible without closely watching the content of all data packets. The reason is that such connections are not necessarily set up via a central server which can perform the necessary logging. On top of that you have techniques like tunneling (VPN’s) which make it simply impossible to look at the content”, he adds.

The gathered data can be made available without special warrants, and without limit to certain types of crime. There will be no independent evaluation, and no extra privacy and no specific security safeguards. The data will be retained for periods ranging from 6 months up to any duration a member state can convince the Commission of.

Hartmut Pilch of the FFII says: “This outcome proves that we have to remain vigilant at all times and work on every relevant directive from the start. Even now, the planned IPRED2 directive, also unanimously condemned by industry and civil society, threatens to turn everyone caught by a patent into a criminal.”

Background Information

Contact information

Erik Josefsson
FFII Brussels Representative

About the FFII

The Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure (FFII) is a non-profit association registered in several European countries, which is dedicated to the spread of data processing literacy. FFII supports the development of public information goods based on copyright, free competition, open standards. More than 850 members, 3,000 companies and 90,000 supporters have entrusted the FFII to act as their voice in public policy questions concerning exclusion rights (intellectual property) in data processing.

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