Update from 20.09.2022 – Data retention is off the table. The European Court of Justice confirms that Union law does not allow general and
indiscriminate retention of traffic and location data, unless there is a serious threat to national security. Read more at Netzpolitik.org.

The EU, governments of the member countries and investigative authorities would like to save all our telephone calls, our movement behavior, our social and business contacts and much more. This is also known as “unreasonable data retention”. Reasonless because it’s reasonless. It is a severe encroachment on our freedom rights and the battle for the data of 500 million Europeans has been “raging” for many years now.

Why don’t politicians, people who are supposed to represent our interests, just wipe something like this off the table?

Case clarification vs. restriction of fundamental rights

As justification, politicians and investigating authorities usually pretend that this is the only way to protect us from terrorist attacks and Internet-based crime (such as child pornography). Not infrequently, they stir up fear of such events in order to make the restriction of freedom appear to us to be without alternative. But so far there is no evidence, no statistics for an improved clear-up rate. Datenschutz.org (3) describes, for example, that in France, despite data retention, there is no significantly increased detection rate.

Also, the data storage of all citizens (and the associated dangers) in order to solve the crime of some is not proportionate.

Dangers of Data Retention

First and foremost, this data storage is a violation of the right to privacy and informational self-determination.

Knowing that this data is being stored creates a kind of self-censorship. Certain information may no longer be discussed over the phone or shared via text message. This jeopardizes the right to freedom of expression. It is also unclear how this data (once collected) is protected against misuse and unauthorized disclosure and how it is ensured when and whether it is deleted.

partial victories of reason

Fortunately, there are partial victories of reason, such as the decision of our Federal Constitutional Court (1) to suspend data retention in Germany or the decision of the European Court of Justice (2), which rejects blanket data retention without cause.

But it is also certain that there will always be legal objections and new ideas from governments, the EU Council and the EU Commission to undermine these partial victories. Other stored data such as our biometric data (e.g. fingerprints) or the license plates are already at risk.

For a ban on blanket mass surveillance!

Just live carefree? Calling, chatting and talking again without state intimidation?

The “Everyone” initiative works to ensure that our basic rights to privacy and self-determination also apply in the digital world. More than 240,000 people in Europe have already voted. Are you there too? Then you can cast your vote here.

Sources, tips and links for further reading