Wednesday 9 June 2010

22 EU parliamentarians withdraw signatures from controversial declaration - update

Update (17 June): It seems like the declaration has been adopted. Here it is, on the list of adopted declarations. What a disgrace!

According to, MEPs have started to withdraw their signatures from a controversial EP declaration.

The declaration that would become an official European Parliament position if at least 369 signatures from MEPs were collected demands that search engine searches should be part of the data retention directive, all this under the pretext of the fight against pedophilia.

This declaration, if I understand correctly, would effectively mean (if translated into EU law) that every search that we do on the net would have to be stored for two years and made accessible to the security authorities if requested.

After Journalist Christian Wohlert reported about the issue last week, it became news in the UK and in Sweden and it also has been noted with concern in Germany and in France.

At least, the news coverage was successful: According to Wohlert, 22 MEPs have withdrawn their signatures so far.

Yet, there are still 309 MEPs left who think that every EU citizen is a potential pedophile and that each of our searches needed to be stored and made available if the police and other security forced wanted to know more about us - the EP at its best!

Picture: © stephenjohnbryde / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0


Anonymous said...

It is invasive but I would not object to this law if implemented.

So long as the 'retained data' was used for serious crime and not minor matters such as chasing down a 15 year old for downloading songs and TV shows.

Julien Frisch said...

This goes strictly against the principle of assuming innocence (everybody's searches will be stored no without any substantive reason) while storing such data that may tell as much about our lives than our email account (even more).

That goes far beyond the acceptable.

nevilleb said...

@Anonymous Don't be paradoxical. The fact that it's invasive should be enough to justify all attempts at stopping this. You say that it's ok to us it for the right reasons - but it won't be used just for that. The pedophilia excuse is just that, an excuse. The lobbyists pushing for Data Retention are interested in it because of its potential to allow prosecution of the 15 year old you mentioned. Julien, is there any way to check who are the MEP's in favour of this? I'd like to bring this to local attention. Thanks :)

Julien Frisch said...


It's not that easy, because this is not made public on the web.

But contact Christian Wohlert, the journalist from (his email is below the articles linked above), and tell him what kind of names would be interesting for you. Maybe he can help.

Anonymous said...

There is nothing paradoxical about what I said. Retaining your search data would be extremely beneficial for preventing and solving crime.

Just because something is invasive does not mean the negatives outweigh the positives. Going to the doctor can be invasive.

Article 1.1'.....[For the]purpose of the investigation, detection and prosecution of serious crime....'

Article 5.2, 'No data revealing the content of the communication may be retained pursuant to this Directive'.

I agree lobbyists always have there own interests at heart(its their purpose). But can you tell me which lobbyists are involved and what their motives are? Maybe you can change my mind.

nevilleb said...

What is ridiculous about this is that it will not stop child pornography, which is distributed in underground networks and not publicly via google since criminals do not want to be caught. It can also probably be circumvented by using a proxy server. In short, the rationale behind is irrational and illegal. The site uses parody in order to explain the implications.

This is reminiscent of China, Iran, Turkey controlling the web- by monitoring people use of the Internet, the EU would be one step away from a control state which bans websites "for the greater good" which is nothing but.

For all the positive intentions which may be behind the written directive, as proven by the lines you quote, such a huge amount of data will inevitably leak and be used for other purposes. It also violates a basic human right - that of privacy. Not to mention the millions of euros that would need to be poured into this; huge servers (and cooling technology to keep them from overheating) would be needed to save and log billions of daily internet searches and build up an individual profile of a user. Finally, it is impractical and will create noise. More details here:

The use of child pornography/terrorism as a way to invade individual privacies and monitor millions of innocent people in the interests of third parties is nothing new. ”Child pornography is great. It is great because politicians understand child pornography. By playing that card, we can get them to act, and start blocking sites. And once they have done that, we can get them to start blocking file sharing sites”. This was said at a seminar organised by the American Chamber of Commerce in Stockholm on May 27, 2007, under the title ”Sweden — A Safe Haven for Pirates?”. The speaker was Johan Schlüter from the Danish Anti-Piracy Group, a lobby organization for the music and film industry associations, like IFPI and others.

I may be biased towards an open internet where people have a right to browse in private - but the fact remains that this proposal is, to put it mildly, scary. Eu Citizens should be concerned

Anonymous said...

Obviously a lot more to this than shown on the surface. Truthfully I'm not 100% on this issue. Definitely warrants more press attention.

Regarding pedophilia, its already possible to identify searches made by people on Peer-to-peer sites. Any search or download of pedophilia can be reported to the police by P2P networks with identifying information.

The purpose of analyzing other communications data would be to identify those behind the crime. Its not only searches on Google but also voice message, text, telephone numbers used etc.[from what I can tell anyway]

The internet is a playground for criminals. I'm all in favor of freedom of expression and privacy. But where there are no rules and nobody to enforce them, the bad element of society will thrive.

Hopefully this issue wont be hijacked by illegal music and movie downloaders or George Orwell worshipers. I will look into this more before picking sides.

nevilleb said...

Again you contradict yourself - if it is the internet which is a cesspool of criminality, why monitor even voice message, text, and telephone numbers? This is clearly a far reaching attempt at monitoring which is underthought and which may have good principles at heart (those mep's really believe this will stop the bad stuff)but if passed WILL be used badly when data inevitably gets linked. And however you phrase it, monitoring millions of innocent people just on the off chance that some of them might be criminals (not just pedophiles; copyright infringement is a crime, so we will surely see many internet users suffering from this). I know you're just trying to form an informed opinion but the fact remains that if this comes to pass it is simply disgusting

Julien Frisch said...

The internet is used by most people for simple private purposes (communication, fun, self-organisation), by many for political, social and economic activities and by comparatively few for criminal acts.

In that sense, the net is not much different to society as we know it.

However, storing online search data is comparable to recording the the thoughts, plans, doubts, illnesses, private interests of every citizen. It is like the police running behind every person, noting down where you look at at what moment, what you plan to buy, what you would like to be (or not to be), where you walk to and whom you talk to. We search for the restaurants we want to go to, the medicine we need, the people we want to know, things we would like to have and styles we'd like to adopt.

We search for everything that concerns our private, social, political and economic life and supporting that this should be recorded and made available to the state practically means that the police and security services should be allowed to know everything about every citizen. It would mean that random investigations could be used to look into our lives, more in detail than most of us are even aware when we search for stuff on the net.

It also meant that hackers who get access to the databases - and that happens - were able to know everything about everyone and commit crimes that we haven't even figured out yet. Data that is not stored cannot be hacked, and the amount of crime that will be detected by such surveillance measures will probably equal the amount of crimes that will be committed because these measures exist.

I myself don't want to live in a world where distrust rules, and where surveillance tranquillises the fears of some by limiting the freedoms of almost everybody else.

I don't want to live in such a world - by the way a world in which you may comment as "Anonymous", but where you wouldn't be anonymous at all...