EU: Another nail in democracy's coffin: EP votes in favour of data retention

EU: Another nail in democracy's coffin: European Parliament, 14 December 2005: The EP today voted in favour of "deal" on mandatory data retention agreed in secret meetings between the Council (EU governments) and the "grand coalition" of the PPE (conservative group) and the PSE (socialist group). The measure was "fast-tracked" through the parliament on 1st reading. The vote was 378 votes in favour, 197 against and 30 abstentions. The GUE, Greens and UEN groups and some members from the ALDE group voted against the directive in the final vote. The rapporteur, Alexander Nuno Alvaro (ALDE, DE) withdrew his name from the report. Amendments adopted by EP (pdf) For documents and background please see: Statewatch analysis: "The European Parliament and data retention: Chronicle of a 'sell-out' foretold?" (pdf) by Professor Steve Peers, Open Letter from civil society groups to the European Parliament calling on MEPs to reject Data Retention, UK-EU: Data retention and police access in the UK - a warning for Europe and for full background, see Statewatch's Observatory on the surveillance of telecommunications in the EU

Tony Bunyan, Statewatch editor, comments:

"The European Parliament has failed on almost every count to protect fundamental rights and privacy. The two big parties in the parliament believe more in "inter-institutional loyalty" to the Council (the EU governments) than their responsibility to the people who elected them.

The way this measure was passed is a democratic travesty - rushed through with deals negotiated in secret and not in open committee. When civil society and national parliaments have no chance to find out what is happening, when the proper co-decision timetable is discarded, there is little chance to intervene. Such a procedure diminishes respect for the European Parliament and lacks any legitimacy whatsoever.

Mandatory data retention will place all the communications of everyone under surveillance. In 2002 the same grand coalition steam-rolled through the Directive on privacy in telecommunications opening the door to state agencies. In December 2004 the mandatory taking of finger-prints for passports was agreed and in April 2004 an EU PNR (passenger name record) for everyone flying in and out too. The asylum procedure directive - which is a disgrace to any notion of humanity and the rule of law - was formally adopted last week. The cost of the "war on terrorism" to democratic standards is mounting as each year goes by. Today we have seen another nail driven into democracy's coffin"


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