UK snooping law plans may come into contradiction with EC
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Deutsch: Britisches Schnüffelgesetz könnte Standpunkt der EU-Kommission wider...
The plans of the UK government of increasing the police online surveillance powers under the draft Communications Data Bill (CDB), also known as the “Snoopers’ Chart”, might come into contradiction with the European Commission’s position on citizens’ rights.
If approved, CDB will place innocent citizens under continuous surveillance having all their communications and online activity monitored, all of the time. The government would store information about who’s messaging whom, who’s a friend to whom on the Internet or what people are searching for on search engines. Police and HM Revenue and Customs officers would have the power to access this information without a judicial warrant.
According to the information appeared in mass-media, the Home Office had a meeting with the largest electronic communications providers in UK that included discussions on the hardware which companies will have to use to monitor traffic flowing through their systems.
Things get more complicated with the design of the system to identify and store traffic data from the webmail services. Thus, the ISPs might have "to route the data via a government-approved 'black box' which will decrypt the message, separate the content from the 'header data', and pass the latter back to the ISP for storage."
When asked about the UK Communications Data Act on the occasion of the Digital Enlightenment Forum in Luxembourg on 25 June, the European Commission vice-president Viviane Reding, who in January 2012 proposed the overhaul of the data protection law in the 27 EU member-states, made reference to the Treaty of Lisbon that had to be observed by all the states. She also pointed out there had to be a balance between the rights and the obligations of the state: “one is to preserve the rights of the individual and the other one is to preserve the rights of the society. This is a balancing act; you cannot make them clash.”
Reding added that the proposed Data Protection Directive, now under discussion in the European Parliament, had some flexibility for the sake of national security against terrorists and organised crime. "But there is no way that in those policies the rights of individuals are eliminated," she however added.
The significant impact of the CDB on human rights was underlined also by Dr. Paul Bernal in a submission sent to the Joint Committee on Human Rights (JCHR). He concluded that even the "premise of the Communications Data Bill is fundamentally flawed. By the very design, innocent people’s data will be gathered (and hence become vulnerable) and their activities will be monitored. Universal data gathering or monitoring is almost certain to be disproportionate at best, highly counterproductive at worst."
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