European Commission locks horns with Germany over data retention law

Meanwhile, Sweden adopts the controversial law

European Union regulators have warned Germany that it must implement the controversial Data Retention Directive within one month or face legal action and possible fines.

The Data Retention Directive requires E.U. member states to store vast amounts of telecommunications information, including data about email, phone calls and text messages, for law enforcement purposes.

The directive was originally adopted in Germany in 2008, but was taken to the German Constitutional Court amid privacy concerns. The court ruled it unconstitutional and it was thrown out. Since then the European Commission has pushed for it to be reinstated , while German data-protection commissioners refuse, describing it as an invasion of privacy.

Romania and the Czech Republic have also declared the directive unconstitutional, while Hungary and Ireland have implemented it but have referred it to higher courts for final judgment. Sweden meanwhile implemented it after a vote in the Swedish Parliament on Wednesday, but not without controversy.

"This has been one of the most filthy, deceptive political campaigns to introduce a massive Big Brother law I have ever seen. It turns your mobile phone into a governmental tracking device that will essentially follow your movements in real time," said Swedish founder of the Pirate Party, Rick Falkvinge.

Other activists say that the Commission has not shown that the blanket retention of data is necessary. A Germany study concluded that the data retention had only helped on 0.002 percent of criminal cases. However, a spokesman for the Commission says that Germany could be taken to the European Court of Justice if it fails to act.

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Jennifer Baker

IDG News Service
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