My Masters dissertation considered the debate surrounding the EU data retention directive (2006/24/EC).

I completed the dissertation in August 2006, at the same time as my mother lay dying in hospital. It wasn't an easy time, and to all those whom I have not personally thanked, please accept my gratitude for your help in this research.

For this reason, I have included an abstract of the dissertation here:

   

EU POLICY ON INTERNET DATA RETENTION IN THE CONTEXT OF POST 9/11 COUNTER-TERRORISM MEASURES AND THE SURVEILLANCE SOCIETY

 

ABSTRACT of Dissertation submitted for the M.A. Degree in Communications Policy, University of Westminster


This dissertation examines the debate surrounding Internet data retention during the legislative process of the EU data retention directive, setting out the issues that were raised by its proponents as well as its opponents. Directive 2006/24/EC, as it is now known, was approved by the European Parliament in December 2005. The directive mandated all communications traffic data for phone, Internet access, email and Internet telephony to be stored for periods of between 6 months to 2 years, in case access is needed by law enforcement authorities. It was driven through the legislature in only 3 months.

The proponents were the British Presidency and EU justice ministers, who argued that retained data was needed in the fight against terrorism. The directive was opposed by the Internet industry, who found themselves on the same side as privacy campaigners. The industry raised many technical, business and legal issues, highlighting the high cost of implementation and flaws in the directive's content - it is written from a voice telephony standpoint and ill-fitting for the Internet industry.

However, the view expressed by many of those who participated in the process was that rational debate was buried by a pressured political process, which resulted in an alleged U-turn deal in the European Parliament. It is arguable that the rational justification for the directive as a counter-terrorism measure is difficult to see, and that the fast tracking of the directive was the product of a potent political atmosphere that immediately followed the July 7th London bombings. It is also arguable that the burden it imposes is more disproportionate on the Internet industry than on the voice telephony industry. There are implications for future EU policy-making in the Internet domain.

Copyright: Monica Horten and University of Westminster