European Commission Considering Data Retention Law Targeting Telecoms And Internet Service Providers

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

european-commission-logoUnder the pre-text of combatting terrorism, the European Commission is mulling a proposed regulation that would require telecommunications companies and internet service providers to retain records of European Citizens’ communications. Courts struck down on constitutional privacy grounds a previous law.

The measure comes just after the deadly terrorist attacks stemming from the Charlie Hebdo rampage in Paris in early January. The situation does appear to a lesser degree reminiscent of the changes in government approaches to privacy in the wake of terrorist outrages in other nations such as those in the United States in 2001 and the railway attacks in Spain and the United Kingdom.

In April of 2014 the European Court of Justice ruled that the previous European Union’s data retention directive requiring telecommunications companies to store customer data for up to two years interfered with citizens’ right to privacy by creating a specter that their private lives would be subject to constant surveillance and hence fostering a chilling effect on speech and privacy.

In response to the court’s ruling, Britain passed an emergency law to require the retention of data for up to a year, sparking protest by privacy rights organizations.

The European Commission’s latest minutes notes that the subject of data retention is once again being strongly considered due in what is proffered to address terrorist threats.

EU Home Affairs Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos noted “on the one hand, the fundamental role that telecommunications records could play in the fight against terrorism and, on the other, the importance of adopting a cautious and measured approach”.

Avramopoulos intends to launch a consultation on the issue to determine whether a new law on data retention that respects privacy rights could be prepared over the coming year, according to the minutes.

The approach to preventing terrorist threats is certainly a worthy cause. Yet the balance is obviously difficult for governments, even those having strictly honorable intentions, to maintain.

One of the advantages of data retention is the volume of data. In the terabytes of data transferred every second, real-time monitoring used in looking for a few messages within Internet as a whole is nearly impossible. The approach to this is to make snapshots of targeted data then parsing through data patterns which allows for a more detailed forensic examination. From a technical point of view, this is realistically one of the better methods to monitor broad swaths of the information transmitted.

Yet, the same data retention technique provides the mechanism to utilize the data for any means chosen by those having the data. The definition of what constitutes “The Greater Good” is certainly in the eye of the beholder.

By Darren Smith



The views expressed in this posting are the author’s alone and not those of the blog, the host, or other weekend bloggers. As an open forum, weekend bloggers post independently without pre-approval or review. Content and any displays or art are solely their decision and responsibility.

20 thoughts on “European Commission Considering Data Retention Law Targeting Telecoms And Internet Service Providers”

  1. Another change the French may want to consider is arming police assigned to guard high-profile targets. An unarmed officer seems a poor defense against heavily armed jihadists bent on slaughter.

  2. Tyger, I agree with you that both political parties deserve scorn, but your aim is at democrats in particular. For the sake of fairness, GWB should be on the list of worst presidents, and may just earn the top spot. And to single out FDR and not mention Hoover is unfair to a partisan extreme. Interesting that two GOP were architects of great economic crises and democrats were the inheritors who had to try and fix those disasters. Obama inherited the most severe economic crisis since the Depression, so I give him a little more slack. Although I disagree with his kid-gloves treatment of the criminal bankster cartel.and the bailouts of corrupt corporations. But if deficits are your main criteria for judging presidents then Bush should be high on your list of least able.

    Regardless, this is about net neutrality and I side with those who want the current system to continue.

    Interesting article happypappies, especially this snippet: Contrary to the critics, the FTC has used its powers very conservatively. Thus far, the FTC has been quite modest in its enforcement, focusing on the most egregious offenders and enforcing the most widespread industry norms. The FTC should push the development of the norms a little more (though not in an extreme or aggressive way).

    So few govt organizations now work for the people that it would be a treat if one of them was not corporate controlled. The internet is the public’s pipeline to information and not just a corporate pipeline for profits at any cost.

    1. Lloyd Blankfien – bankster

      Yes, that is what I felt also and a foreign emotion when it comes to the government – dare one call it hope? 😉

  3. Lloyd, thanks for providing all that information. Yes, I read it all. Big corporations do create websites and foundations and other organizations that sound like they are working for the interests of “The People” and assign names to their campaigns that would suggest they are doing the right thing for everyone. Upon closer inspection, the laws they propose are in the interests of the big corporations, not the general population. For what it’s worth to you, I lob verbal artillery rounds at the big corporations and banks just as often as I do the government, no matter who is the president at the time. Politicians and bankers are all a bunch of liars and thieves. They can just alter the laws to make what they do appear to be legitimate. Other criminals don’t have that advantage. The so called “Left” and “Right”, the supposed “Liberals” and “Conservatives” are only different from each other in some of their methods, despite their professing to do the best thing for the country. They both want to control everyone and make them do things the way they want to do them. They both suppress freedoms and steal from everyone.

    My personal opinion is that the current president is worse than most, maybe the worst, when folks in the future look back at history. Wilson helped create the Federal Reserve and income taxes, and later admitted he “ruined his country”. FDR was credited with saving the economy with all of his socialist programs, but it will never be known how much more quickly recovery from the Great Depression would have happened without them. The Obama-nation everyone in the USA lives with today is still headed for financial disaster, despite his claims the economy is getting better. You can’t spend your way out of debt, and that it what he is trying to do. I could rant on and on about this, and more, but what I have to say is ignored by most folks here anyway. My ideas are just too radical, and too rational, I guess.

  4. Lloyd

    Fine comment – unfortunately it doesn’t work for many in this crowd. They won’t read anything that is composed of more than four sentences. Attention spans are a problem. Especially in posts that omit statements that “Obama is taking over”, ‘haters’ or ‘cultists’.

  5. I believe my lengthy reply to Nick and Tyger has been gobbled….

  6. Funny. Nick and Tyger act as if Obama is the demon spawn and wants to hurt America by keeping the policies currently in place since GWB!

    In February 2004 then Federal Communications Commission Chairman Michael Powell announced a set of non-discrimination principles, which he called the principles of “Network Freedom.” In a speech at the Silicon Flatirons Symposium, Powell encouraged ISPs to offer users these four freedoms:

    Freedom to access content.
    Freedom to run applications.
    Freedom to attach devices.
    Freedom to obtain service plan information.

    So rules setup during the GOP Bush years were fine then, but now that Obama backs them they are going to crush America. It’s never about policy it’s always about Obama.

    ‘Yet where are the righties when their corporate idols do things like This: In October 2007, Comcast, the largest cable company in the US, was found to be blocking or severely delaying BitTorrent uploads on their network using a technique which involved creating ‘reset’ packets (TCP RST) that appeared to come from the other party.

    In September 2012, a group of public interest organizations such as Free Press, “Public Knowledge” and the “New American Foundation’s Open Technology Institute” filed a complaint with the FCC that accuses AT&T of violating net-neutrality rules, by restricting use of the video- conferencing Apple application “FaceTime” to certain customers.’

    And: ‘The net neutrality rule did not keep ISPs from charging more for faster access.’

    So ISPs can charge more for faster service, but they shouldn’t be allowed to dictate what you can and cannot see. They shouldn’t be able to block, hinder and disrupt service to fit their short term needs.

    ‘Organizations that support net neutrality come from widely varied political backgrounds and include groups such as, Free Press, Consumer Federation of America, AARP, American Library Association, Gun Owners of America, Public Knowledge, the Media Access Project, the Christian Coalition, and TechNet.’

    Now that’s a wide range of political and social views. While those opposed are your standard corporate suspects:

    A number of net neutrality opponents have created a website called Hands Off The Internet[citation needed] to explain their arguments against net neutrality. Principal financial support for the website comes from AT&T, and members include technology firms such as Alcatel, 3M and pro-market advocacy group Citizens Against Government Waste

    And congress has tried to pass disturbing legislation such as PIPA and SOPA:

    ‘Although the bills were ostensibly aimed at reaching foreign websites dedicated to providing illegal content, their provisions would allow for removal of enormous amounts of non-infringing content including political and other speech from the Web. The various bills defined different techniques for blocking “blacklisted” sites. Each would interfere with the Internet’s domain name system (DNS), which translates names like “” or “” into the IP addresses that computers use to communicate. SOPA would also allow rightsholders to force payment processors to cut off payments and advertising networks to cut ties with a site simply by sending a notice. ‘

    Where were the righties when these bills ere being introduced? Nowhere….

    Broadband in US is more expensive and yet slower and less available tan most other developed countries. Why the right wants to further the decline of American internet access and yet increase prices is priceless….

    And GOP wants to and has blocked municipalities from creating fast and open broadband.

    ‘If that list of cities sounds familiar, it’s because Chattanooga is the country’s go-to example of just how great municipal broadband can be, and the Kansas City area is where Google Fiber first launched. Lafayette also has a well-regarded public fiber utility.

    But in larger cities, where only big incumbent ISPs like Comcast, Verizon, and Time Warner Cable operate, the picture is more dire. Los Angeles, New York, and Washington, DC all tie for 12th place on the list, with fiber connections of 500 Mbps. San Francisco, America’s high-tech hotbed, comes in near the bottom of the list with top speeds of 200 Mbps, just 20% of what consumers in Chattanooga can get

    American users aren’t just seeing slower service, though; even though prices have dropped since last year, we’re still paying significantly more for every gigabyte we get. Gigabit service in Chattanooga and Kansas City runs $70 per month, and in Lafayette it’s about $110. As compared to last year’s $1000 monthly fee, that’s great. But customers in Seoul, Hong Kong, and Tokyo — all cities with a high cost of living — are all paying between $30 and $40 USD for their connections.”

    So please stop the Obama bashing and the conspiracy nonsense. If there is a guilty party in this broadband issue it’s the GOP for protecting corporate interests at the expense of the American public. Nothing new there though.

  7. For a U.S. President to resist those who demand control over all, is just asking for a free convertible ride in Dallas.

  8. Tyger, WordPress has been hinky lately. I had the same happen to me yesterday. As for Obama leaving, well how about President Crazy Joe Biden. Obama ain’t leaving. We just have to hope he doesn’t bumble us into a war by bending over so many times to terrorists, Putin, Cuba for chrissake. They are pimp slapping him in negotiations.

  9. Sorry for the duplicate post. You can remove it. It didn’t show at first and I thought the system objected to my use of the invented word eqecuquit. Then both appeared when I hyphenated it, to my dismay.

  10. Nick, this president is a threat to the very existence of the nation, and that is no joke. His threat to the freedom of the Internet is real, and because the Web has become an integral part the all business operations, this is something that could cause the ultimate crash of the entire economy in the US and worldwide. Too bad the Executive doesn’t execu-quit himself and leave the office before some other more powerful element of the moneyed elite does it to him. He never should have been considered for the position, let alone be elected. Why he has yet to be removed is another mystery of this deteriorating corrupt government.

  11. Nick, this president is a threat to the very existence of the nation, and that is no joke. His threat to the freedom of the Internet is real, and because the Web has become an integral part the all business operations, this is something that could cause the ultimate crash of the entire economy in the US and worldwide. Too bad the Executive doesn’t execuquit himself and leave the office before some other more powerful element of the moneyed elite does it to him. He never should have been considered for the position, let alone be elected. Why he has yet to be removed is another mystery of this deteriorating corrupt government.

  12. Obama is also talking govt. control of the internet, of course under the pretext of keeping us safe. What a joke and what a clown he has shown to be. Expect some executive orders.

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