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An EU Directive

In March 2006, a new ‘European Directive on data retention’ was enacted. This requires EU member countries to keep records of all personal electronic communications, including landline phone calls, Internet use and mobile phones. Records must be kept for not less than six months and for a maximum of two years from the date of the communication.

Network operators are required to archive the data necessary to identify:

  • the source of a communication
  • the destination of a communication
  • the date, time and duration of a communication
  • the type of communication
  • users’ communication equipment or what purports to be their equipment:
  • the location of mobile communication equipment

Under the terms of this Directive, data revealing the content of the communication may not be recorded.

Without your knowledge, and without a court order, government enforcement agencies can monitor

  • your mobile phone calls
  • who you email
  • which websites you visit

Enforcement agencies include the police, national security agencies, Inland Revenue, Customs and Excise.

Question: Some people argue that such government access to personal data poses no threat to citizens who have done no wrong. What counter-arguments could be given to this view?

Next: Commercial espionage


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