Statewatch News online: Responses by civil society groups to Ms. Paciotti (PSE MEP, socialist group) in response to her letter of 28 May 2002

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Responses by civil society groups to Ms. Paciotti (PSE MEP, socialist group) to her letter of 28 May 2002

1. IRIS - Imaginons un réseau Internet solidaire
2. Statewatch
3. Cyber-Rights & Cyber-Liberties (UK)
4. GILC - Global Internet Liberty Campaign
5. International Federation of Journalists (IFJ)

1. IRIS - Imaginons un réseau Internet solidaire

Dear Ms Paciotto,

I would like to thank you for your mail sent in response to the NGO open letter. I fully endorse the response sent to you by my colleagues Cédric Laurant (Electronic Privacy Information Center), Sjoera Nas (XS4ALL Internet) and Maurice Wessling (Bits of Freedom). However, I would like to add a comment regarding the French situation, providing you with an example which can explain why, in practice, the Cappato report on Article 15(1) should be supported by your Assembly.

As IRIS president, I've filed on december 21st a complaint with the European Commission against France regarding Article 29 of French law N°2001-1062 of November 15th, 2001. This law is known as "loi relative à la sécurité quotidienne" and its Article 29 is about data retention. The complaint has been received by the EC on January 15th, 2002. It is currently being examined by the EC. From IRIS point of view, this law is violating current EU legislation, since it results in generic data retention for a period of up to one year. Moreover, the actual length of this period of time, as well as the exact type of data to be retained, should be specified by a decree. This decree has not yet been published, but the scope of this law has already been extended by an other law passed on December 2001 to allow exploitation of the retained data for other purposes by administrative services. Attached you will find the text (in French) of IRIS complaint.

Article 29 of French law N°2001-1062 of November 15th, 2001 would become compatible with the EU legislation in case your amendment is adopted by the EP. On the contrary, it would remain a violation of the EU legislation if the Cappato's report provision on Article 15(1) is adopted.

Finally, I would like to remind you that France has recently experienced a real threat for democracy after the 1st round of our presidential elections on last April 21st. Taking into account this threat, which is growing all over Europe, it is absolutely necessary that the EU legislation offers the most serious guarantees for fundamental rights.

I'm sure you will understand our concerns, and will support Cappato's report on Article 15(1).

Best regards,
Meryem Marzouki (IRIS - Imaginons un réseau Internet solidaire).

Meryem Marzouki -
IRIS - Imaginons un réseau Internet solidaire
294 rue de Charenton - 75012 Paris
Tel/Fax. +33(0)144749239

2. Statewatch

PO Box 1516,
London N16 0EW,


29 May 2002

Dear Ms Paciotti,

In response to your letter of 28 May we would make the following observations:

1. It is our view that on this issue no "compromise" is possible. Either MEPs vote in favour of maintaining the existing 1997 Directive which only allows traffic and location data to be kept for billing purposes (ie: for the benefit of the customers) or they vote in favour of data being retained so that EU law enforcement agencies (police, customs, immigration and internal security agencies) can get access to it.

2. The references in the PSE/PPE amendment to the European Convention on Human Rights and to the general principles of Community law in Article 6 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU) are presented as constitutional safeguards. However, the inclusion of these references are simply "window-dressing" as the ECHR, the TEU and Community law apply automatically to any EU Directive and therefore add no additional protections. Moreover, the European Court of Justice also automatically has a say in the interpretation of the Directive - cases on the national application of the Directive could go to both the European Court of Justice (Luxembourg) and the European Court of Human Rights (Strasbourg).

3. This measure is not needed to combat terrorism or serious criminal investigations, these powers already exist under the 1997 Directive (as the Council's own Legal Service advised before Christmas).

4. The EU Data Protection Commissioner and the Article 29 Working Party on Data Protection have always been opposed to this measure.

5. The European Commission's original proposal was simply to introduce a number of uncontroversial changes to the 1997 Directive. It too was opposed to the measure to introduce data retention and only withdrew its opposition in December.

6. The fact that PSE/PPE amendment is acceptable to the Council and now the European Commission is irrelevant - it is the job of the European Parliament, where necessary, to stand out against the pressure from the other two Brussels-based institutions especially on an issue so fundamental to privacy and democratic standards.

7. To suggest that surveillance should be "appropriate and proportionate" is quite meaningless in reality. One has to assume that MEPs have been aware of the debate on the surveillance of telecommunication which has been going on since at least 1997: Discussions in G8 (attended by key EU states), ILETS (International Law Enforcement Telecommunications Seminar) and Council working parties have been discussing "limited periods" of between 12 months and seven years.

8. The PSE/PPE amendment is patently not an "improvement" on the current 1997 EU Directive in regard to data retention.

9. It is hard to give credence to the idea that the PSE group care about data protection, privacy or surveillance. The group voted against data retention in Committee and in the November plenary last year and again in the Committee on 18 April but on the critical vote on Thursday 30 May they are intending to abandon their position and back the retention of data - good intentions mean little if they are not carried through.

10. The net effect will be to fundamentally undermine data protection laws put into place so painstakingly during the 1990s. Moreover, if people become aware that all their communications are being held on record it will undermine confidence in e-mails and the internet. As the UK Home Office Assessment put in:

"A balance must therefore be drawn between security and privacy.. Data relating to specific individuals under investigation will only be available if data relating to the communications of the entire population is retained"

11. The EU's Police Chiefs Operational Task Force want data to be retained and accessible for:

"research purposes"

that is, not in connection with any specific offence but in order to conduct "fishing expeditions" on individuals or groups.

12. In his letter to the EU institutions on 16 October one of George Bush's demands was that the EU introduce data retention - a power that does not exist in the USA, even under the PATRIOT Act.

13. It might be expected too that MEPs are aware of the EU governments intentions on this issue. Since 1998 it has been clear that as far as they are concerned the surveillance of telecommunications only works if every EU state has the same laws and which operate in exactly the same way - this is why a number of EU governments are working on a draft Framework Decision which will be binding on every Member State. Thus the claim that data retention requires a derogation (ie: is non-binding) by each member state falls if all member states are committed to the same policy, as they are.

Yours sincerely,

Tony Bunyan, editor Statewatch

3. Cyber-Rights & Cyber-Liberties (UK)

To: Elena Paciotti MEP, Shadow rapporteur - PES Group
Date: 29 May, 2002

Dear Ms Paciotti,

Re: Cappato Report and Data Retention issues

Many thanks for your message. However, I am concerned not only about the wording of the Directive but also about the inclusion of data retention provisions within the EU level within this Directive. You do mention in your message that "this final proposal is not fully satisfactory, but a compromise solution seldom is". However, there should not be a compromise so far as infringement of rights under the Convention and for that purpose under European Charter of Fundamental Human Rights are concerned. In fact, the Charter recognises in article 8 the protection of personal data as a right in addition to respect for communications in article 7. However, I fail to see these issues being adequately addressed by the amendments made.

The monitoring of communications including interception of content data, and the retention of communications data can constitute an interference with the right to respect for private life and correspondence in breach of Art. 8(2) of the European Convention on Human Rights, unless these surveillance activities are carried out in accordance with a legal provision capable of protecting against arbitrary interference by the state with the rights guaranteed. However, the exceptions provided for in Article 8(2) are to be interpreted narrowly, and data retention for law enforcement purposes should only be employed for exceptional purposes and the need for such retention in a given case must be convincingly established in accordance with article 8 of the ECHR and with the jurisprudence of the Strasbourg Court in relation to article 8.

Furthermore, the relevant provisions of domestic law must be both accessible and their consequences foreseeable, in that the conditions and circumstances in which the state is empowered to take secret measures such as interception of communications and retention of communications data should be clearly indicated as "where a power of the executive is exercised in secret the risks of arbitrariness are evident."

At this stage, a commitment to data protection and privacy of communications can only be shown by rejecting the EPP PSE amendment 46.

Yours sincerely,
Dr. Yaman Akdeniz, Director, Cyber-Rights & Cyber-Liberties (UK)

4. Derechos Human Rights


A la atención de Elena Paciotti MEP Shadow rapporteur - PES Group

Estimada Sra. Paciotti:

Debo agradecer que haya dado respuesta pública a la carta abierta enviada por el GILC y cuya versión en español se encuentra en

Por nuestra parte señora, apoyamos en todos sus términos las cartas de respuesta que han hecho públicas por Meryem Marzouki - (IRIS - Imaginons un réseau Internet solidaire) y Cédric Laurant de Electronic Privacy Information Center, Sjoera Nas de XS4ALL Internet y Maurice Wessling de Bits of Freedom.

Pero dado que nosotros actuamos en el ámbito del movimiento internacional de Derechos Humanos y creemos que Vd. debería ser receptiva a los argumentos relacionados con la defensa de la libertades civiles, nos permitimos puntualizar, por nuestra parte, la respuesta a su carta pública:

1) La propuesta que Vd ha firmado tiene como finalidad la retención de correos electrónicos por un tiempo a determinar y por parte de una autoridad aún desconocida que surgirá de una ley que se aprobará en el
futuro y que desconocemos su contenido. Estos extremos surgen del contenido de su carta pública.

2) Estos argumentos, estimada señora, son contrarios “sensu stricto” a las normas más básicas de las libertades como son:

a) la presunción de inocencia: la retención de correspondencia electrónica se hace sobre el supuesto de
invertir esta proposición y considerar a todos los ciudadanos de la Unión Europea sospechosos “a priori”, y, además, con el agravante de que no será el juez natural el encargado de valorar el comportamiento
presuntamente delictivo, sino que será una ley y una autoridad administrativa.

Es evidente que sólo tiene sentido hacer una ley si en el “espíritu legislativo” de la misma está el sortear por vís de excepción el camino judicial predeterminado y que existe en cada uno de los Estados de la Unión Europea y en el propio régimen de la Unión.

b) la libertad de pensamiento y de opinión: Es extraordinariamente grave que a través de la vía del Parlamento
Europeo se prentenda almacenar el pensamiento y las opiniones de los ciudadanos para luego ser analizados y procesados con fines que sólo pueden ser contrarios a derecho.

Para no cansarla, estimada señora, le recuerdo que ya la Declaración de los Derechos del Hombre y del Ciudadano de 1789, adoptada por la Asamblea Constituyente francesa del 20 al 26 de agosto de 1789, aceptada por el Rey de Francia el 5 de octubre de 1789, en su artículo 10, dice: Puesto que la comunicación sin trabas de los pensamientos y opiniones es uno de los más valiosos derechos del hombre, todo ciudadano puede
hablar, escribir y publicar libremente, teniendo en cuenta que es responsable de los abusos de esta libertad en los casos determinados por la ley.

Y la Declaración de los Derechos del Hombre y del Ciudadano de 1793, votada por la Convención Nacional el 23 de junio de 1793, dice en su artículo siete: El derecho a manifestar sus ideas y opiniones, sea a través de la
prensa, sea a través de cualquier otro medio, el derecho a reunirse pacíficamente, el libre ejercicio de los cultos, no pueden ser prohibidos. La necesidad de enunciar estos derechos supone, o bien la presencia, o bien el recuerdo reciente del despotismo.

En su artículo nueve: La ley debe proteger la libertad pública e individual contra la opresión de los que la administran.

En su artículo catorce: Nadie puede ser juzgado ni condenado sin haber sido previamente escuchado y enjuiciado, y , en virtud de una ley promulgada con anterioridad al delito. Toda ley que castigue los delitos cometidos antes de su existencia no es sino una tiranía; el efecto retroactivo otorgado a la ley constituiría un crimen.

Estimada Sra Pacioti, es evidente que estos principios que están en el acervo de los derechos civiles tal cual los conocemos hoy y tal cual han llegado hasta nosotros, deben ser defendidos y su trabajo consistiría en eso: garantizar que se cumplen y que son cumplidos.

Por último, quisiera hacer relación a la intención de norma de “exepción” de la propuesta parlamentaria que Vd. ha firmado. Es obvio que la fundamentación está basada en el estado de peligro que afecta a los estados, en este caso a toda la Unión Europea, o bien en que existe un riesgo que afecta a la propia existencia de los estados.

Estos argumentos fueron desarrollados por los críticos de la República de Weimar y de allí surgieron los más destacados teóricos del “estado de excepción” y de la capacidad legislativa de adoptar normas políticas que no estén constreñidas por el estado de derecho. Carl Schmitt llegó al punto máximo de este supuesto y soportó la teoría de que las normas de excepción están codificadas en el orden legal existente cuando se habla de “estado de peligro” o riesgo de la “existencia” del estado.

Estimada señora, no hace falta que le recuerde a qué extremos llevó este tipo de utilización de la filosofía del estado de derecho que hemos visto resurgir con fuerza a partir de los atentados del 11 de septiembre en los Estados Unidos.

Es por todo ello que le manifestamos que ud tiene una responsabilidad con el estado de derecho que debe garantizar, y que la propuesta que ud plantea no es es concordante con los supuestos de defensa de las libertades civiles.

Por lo tanto, le solicitamos expresamente que modifique su posición y retire su firma de la proposición que permite retener la correspondencia electrónica.


Gregorio Dionis
Director del Equipo Nizkor y miembro directivo de Derechos Human Rights

4. GILC - Global Internet Liberty Campaign

28 May, 2002

Dear Mrs. Paciotti,

Thank you for your response to the Open Letter. Thank you also for your interest in our views on privacy and security in the telecommunications sector. We wholeheartedly support your position about the necessity
of enabling users to opt-in for commercial bulkmail and registers.

Our letter, however, focuses on the problem of data retention for criminal investigations and national security. Many other parts of the new directive are certainly an improvement, but we believe that allowing data retention will severely put fundamental liberties in Europe under pressure.

By specifically inserting into an article of the directive a reference to data retention, the drafters of the Palacio amendment, following in that the Council's common position, insidiously establish the surveillance of communications as a general principle only subject to limitations, rather than making it an exception -
consequently subject to a strict interpretation - within the wide derogatory regime that Article 15 already
establishes. We therefore think that Article 15 should not mention data retention since it could already be
inferred from the language of the first sentence of Article 15(1). Therefore we believe we need to oppose
such measures even if they are part of a broader compromise.

We fully agree with the notion that the retention of traffic data can only be decided through "legislative measures" and is allowed only "for a limited period". However we fear that even a necessary, appropriate and proportionate implementation will result in generic retention, regardless of whether the user of telecommunications is subject to a criminal investigation.

Additionally, the word temporary is missing in the Palacio amendment compared to Cappato's version. Would the drafters of the amendment be too much concerned that retention might not become generalized? If the words "proportionate", "appropriate" and "within a democratic society" used in the amendment refer to Article 8 of the European Convention of Human Rights ("ECHR"), it is definitely not in the spirit and letter of this Convention to allow for permanent restrictions of freedoms. We strongly recommend the addition of the word "temporary" in the amendment.

While the final sentence of the amendment states that "All the measures referred to in this paragraph shall be
in accordance with the general principles of Community law including those referred to in Article 6 paragraphs 1 and 2 of the Treaty on European Union", we do not understand why the ECHR is not mentioned here. Although the drafters of the amendment have thought about this fundamental text, by referring to it only in a recital they show that they do not intend the ECHR to be as binding as an insertion in Art. 15 itself would do. We believe that a direct reference to this Convention is vital to secure the EU citizens' right to privacy as enshrined and interpreted in Article 8.

In our view, proportionate data retention should be limited to those users who are under investigation, and should not place law-abiding citizens under unnecessary surveillance.

By "unnecessary" we want to emphasize that a surveillance is "unnecessary" (pursuant to the its meaning in Art. 8 of the ECHR) if it takes place before any formal criminal investigation is launched. We would like to express our gratitude for your kind letter to the members of GILC and hope that all the members of your party support the Cappato Report that the Parliament has already approved last year and reject any amendment that make of data retention and general surveillance of communications a general principle.

Best regards,

Cédric Laurant, Electronic Privacy Information Center
Sjoera Nas, XS4ALL Internet
Maurice Wessling, Bits of Freedom

4. International Federation of Journalists

Media Release, 27 May 2002

IFJ Warns of Threats to Liberty if European Union Agrees to “Charter for Official Snooping”

The International Federation of Journalists and its European regional group, the European Federation of Journalists today called on the European Parliament to block attempts this week to allow member states to pass laws that will give the authorities regular access to people’s telephone and Internet communications.

A draft law to be voted on by the European Parliament in Brussels on Wednesday could, says Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary, “open the door to the snooping society in which people’s private communications will become
subject to official monitoring.”

The IFJ is calling on MEPs to reject amendments to the 1997 European Directive on the Protection of Telecommunications Data and Information to allow EU states to pass laws to keep data about people's electronic
communications for access by police, customs, immigration and intelligence services. Under existing rules data can only be retained for a short period for "billing" purposes (ie: to help the customer confirm usage details) and then it must be erased.

“This amendment to policy would have been unthinkable before September 11 last year, but politicians are using public uncertainty and security concerns to undermine people’s rights and liberties,” said Aidan White. “This charter for official snooping in the EU must be opposed.”

Until now, the European Parliament has said the position should remain that access for purposes of national security and criminal investigations should be authorised in a case-by-case basis by the courts.

But the Parliament is under pressure from the EU Council of Ministers. Because the measure is subject to the co-decision procedure, whereby the Council and the European Parliament have to agree the final text, the two
bodies are potentially on a collision course.

“Although Brussels bureaucrats will argue that the Council's proposal is not binding and that it will be up to each government to decide how to respond we hope the Parliament will stand firm,” says the IFJ. “We know the that EU governments are planning to adopt a Framework Decision that will bind all members states to introduce the retention of data.”

The IFJ says that if telecommunications ­ telephone calls, e-mails, faxes and Internet usage - are placed under official surveillance data protection will be fatally undermined. “So will the capacity of journalists to monitor
the apparatus of state and to store information,” said White.

“The citizen’s right to private space and for the press to investigate and scrutinise the authorities without intimidation are freedoms that distinguish democracies from authoritarian regimes," says the IFJ, “They
must not be given up lightly.”

Further information: + 32 2 235 22 00
The IFJ represents more than 500,000 journalists in more than 100 countries

© Statewatch ISSN 1756-851X.Material may be used providing the source is acknowledged. Statewatch does not have a corporate view, nor does it seek to create one, the views expressed are those of the author. Statewatch is not responsible for the content of external websites and inclusion of a link does not constitute an endorsement.

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