Ben Hayes on Wed, 16 May 2001 16:13:17 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> EU to massively extend surveillance

Exclusive Statewatch report:



* EU laws on data protection and privacy to be reviewed to meet 
demands of the "agencies" for access to all telecommunications 
content and traffic data

* The Council of the European Union to back retention and 
archiving of all phone-calls, e-mails, faxes, internet usage and 
websites for up to seven years

* "ENFOPOL 98" to go through EU Justice and Home Affairs 
Council at the end of May: extending surveillance to mobile 
phones, internet usage and websites

* access to documents refused because disclosure "could impede 
the efficiency of ongoing deliberations"
The Council of the European Union (the 15 EU governments) is 
about to back the demands of EU "law enforcement agencies" for 
full access to all telecommunications data to be written into all 
Community legislation in the future, and for existing laws to be re-
examined - a move that is even more far-reaching than the decision 
on 17 January 1995 to sign up to the FBI plan for the interception of 

At the centre is the issue of "data retention" (the archiving of all 
telecommunications for at least seven years). By backing the law 
enforcement agencies' demands the EU governments will be 
coming out in direct opposition to the strongly-held views of the 
Data Protection Commissioners.

The January 1995 decision by the EU meant that it adopted 
"Requirements" for interception agreed with the FBI. In September 
1998 an attempt to update the "Requirements" to cover the internet 
and satellite phones was shelved because of a public outcry 
("ENFOPOL 98"). Instead EU member states started amending 
their national laws on interception. But last year two proposals from 
the European Commission on personal data protection and privacy 
and "combating computer-related crime" threatened to undermine 
the demands of the law enforcement agencies for access to all 
telecommunications data.

Six EU governments lead the opposition to the erasure of traffic 
data - as required under current community law: Belgium, 
Germany, France, Netherlands, Spain and the UK.

The "Council Conclusions" (ENFOPOL 23, 30.3.01) say:

1. The obligation for operators to erase and make traffic data 
anonymous "seriously obstructs" criminal investigations;

2. It is of the "utmost importance" that "access" be "guaranteed" 
for criminal investigations;

3. It calls on the European Commission to:

a) take "immediate action" to ensure that law enforcement 
agencies now and "in the future" get access in order to "investigate 
crimes where electronic communications systems are or have 
been used";
b) the "action" should be "a review of the provisions that oblige 
operators to erase traffic data or to make them anonymous"

In short, existing EU laws on data protection and privacy have to be 
reviewed to enable the retention of traffic data for the investigation 
of "crime" (not serious organised crime, but any crime). All future 
laws, including the proposals currently being discussed on the 
protection of privacy and computer-aided crime should ensure the 
retention of data. All the protections for personal freedom and 
privacy put in place through international data protection rules and 
privacy Directives would be fatally undermined at a stroke.

ENFOPOL 98 updated (ENFOPOL 29) is scheduled for adoption at 
the next meeting of the Justice and Home Affairs Council on 28-29 
May, together with a Resolution emphasising the great importance 
of ensuring that the redefined "Requirements" are built into 
community measures under the "first pillar". The adoption of the 
Conclusions, if agreement can be reached on the text, has been 
"pencilled in" for the meeting of the Telecommunications Council 
on 27 June - at the same meeting where the Council will adopt a 
"common position" on the new data protection and privacy Directive.

Statewatch was refused access to these documents by the 
Council on the grounds that it could:

"impede the efficiency of the ongoing deliberations".

Tony Bunyan, Statewatch editor, comments: 

"Authoritarian and totalitarian states would be condemned for 
violating human rights and civil liberties if they initiated such 
practices. The fact that it is being proposed in the "democratic" EU 
does not make it any less authoritarian or totalitarian."

Contact for further information: Statewatch: 00 44 208 802 1882 or 

The full report and all documentation is available on: 

Monitoring the state & civil liberties in Europe
Online news service: <>
Statewatch, PO BOX 1516, London. N16 0EW. UK
Phone: 0044-(0)20-8802-1882
Fax: 0044-(0)20-8880-1727

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