Machine translations by Deepl, 18 February 2015: 'How long will all your call and email data be stored?'

"How do you strike the right balance between privacy and security? Justice wants to keep telecom data for a long time - telecom companies, journalists and lawyers oppose. Today, summary proceedings by the Dutch Association of Criminal Defence Lawyers, journalists' union NVJ, the Privacy First foundation and some telecoms providers against the so-called 'retention obligation' of telecoms data are due to be heard. They want the mandatory mass storage of metadata (location, internet, e-mail and call data) to stop immediately.

1. What is the lawsuit about?

The plaintiffs think they have a good chance. The European Court of Justice ruled last year that the data retention obligation severely affects privacy, while it is unclear to what extent it is needed to tackle terrorism and crime. On this basis, the Council of State established that in the Netherlands, from now on, it must be precisely defined whose data are retained.

2. Exactly how much is kept?

Currently, all phone data of all Dutch citizens are compulsorily stored for a year and internet data for six months. Minister Opstelten (Justice, VVD) already declared his willingness to amend the law, but to continue massive data storage. And that is therefore not allowed, believes the plaintiffs' lawyer Fulco Blokhuis: "The importance of fighting crime has already been weighed up by the European Court. Of course crime must be combated, but the court felt it was going much too far to store everyone's metadata for that purpose. Moreover, after almost six years of retention obligations, the effectiveness has not been demonstrated."

3. If the plaintiffs are proven right, what happens?

The judge is likely to rule within a few weeks. If he scraps the retention obligation, is there anything to say about the number of criminals who risk evading prosecution? Gerrit van der Burg, top executive of the Public Prosecution Service: "We do not keep track of the number of cases in which historical traffic data play a decisive role. My estimate is that there are thousands."

Opponents of the retention obligation point out that even without the retention obligation, investigation services can have access to call data (e.g. who calls/emails whom, and where are persons located?). After all, telecom companies already store data for months for billing purposes too. And research by the Scientific Research and Documentation Centre showed that three quarters of the requested data was less than six months old.

4. What is actually the problem with data retention?

The WODC report lists cases of poor data security, which would allow unauthorised persons to find out, for example, who a journalist's source was, or who called which lawyer and when. If citizens can no longer communicate unspoken, the source protection of journalists and the professional secrecy of lawyers are under pressure, this also leads to insecurity in society, opponents of long retention believe.

If the courts follow that view and find the current retention obligation to be contrary to European fundamental rights, they can draw a line under it. (...)"

Source: , 18 February 2015.