The European Union EU Data Retention Directive, Directive 2006/24/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 15 March 2006 on the retention of data generated or processed in connection with the provision of publicly available electronic communications services or of public communications networks and amending Directive 2002/58/EC requires telecommunications data storage by EU Member States for law enforcement and anti-terrorism purposes. Each EU Member State is required by the Directive to enact legislation in accordance with the Directive. Article 4 on Access to Data provides in addition that privacy safeguards are to be adopted:
"Member States shall adopt measures to ensure that data retained in accordance with this Directive are provided only to the competent national authorities in specific cases and in accordance with national law. The procedures to be followed and the conditions to be fulfilled in order to gain access to retained data in accordance with necessity and proportionality requirements shall be defined by each Member State in its national law, subject to the relevant provisions of European Union law or public international law, and in particular the ECHR as interpreted by the European Court of Human Rights."Germany implemented that Directive in the "Gesetz zur Neuregelung der Telekommunikationsüberwachung und anderer verdeckter Ermittlungsmaßnahmen sowie zur Umsetzung der Richtlinie 2006/24/EG", effective January 1, 2008.
On March 2, 2010, the Federal Constitutional Court of Germany ruled that German law unconstitutional, essentially on the grounds of "vagueness" and ordered the destruction of all data thus far retained - an extreme decision without seeming practical necessity.
A nice summary of the court decision is found at the Privacy and Information Security Law Blog by Hunton and Williams LLP.
The Spiegel Online International in Defending Privacy: German High Court Limits Phone and E-Mail Data Storage writes (March 3, 2010):
Germany's highest court has rejected a controversial law requiring data on telephone calls and e-mail traffic to be stored for six months for possible use by law enforcement. Data stored so far must be deleted immediately, and strict controls must be put in place before the law can come into force again."Lance Whitney at CNET's Politics and Law in German court rules against data retention policy writes:
"The German court found that the law, as implemented, went beyond the intent of the original directive and has ordered all customer data to be removed immediately. The new ruling suspends the directive but doesn't knock it down permanently. The German court indicated that tighter controls would be needed to ensure the security of the data as well as a clear intention and control over what the data would be used for."The German Federal Constitutional Court decision follows a similar line of provincial thinking found in the article German Minister Warns Against the Power of Internet Giants, as written by Spiegel Online International:
"German Consumer Protection Minister Ilse Aigner has launched an attack on the Internet economy, warning that the likes of Google, Microsoft and Apple store vast amounts of personal information on Web users that can be used for financial gain, and can hurt people's chances of getting jobs or bank loans."In a comparably paranoid vein, there is also pressure in Germany and in the EU on Google's Street View. As reported in CNET's Does Google Street View see a future in Europe:
"Faced with European Union demands that Google reduce the time it stores its Street View images from 12 months to 6 months, Google Chief Technology Advocate Michael Jones said this week that the company may choose not to map any new photos in Europe unless an agreement on data retention can be reached. Jones, who is also Google's former chief technologist of Google Maps, Google Earth, and Local Search, made his comments in an interview with Bloomberg News at the Cebit Technology Fair in Germany."People's aversion to Google's Street View must be one of the most puzzling developments ever, as we find Street View to be one of the greatest features in geographic mapping ever devised, adding a new cartographic dimension to our planet of incalculable value.
The conception that data storage of valid cartographic material GENERALLY violates rights of privacy is simply absurd in all but the most exceptional cases (we leave room open for such a possibility since exceptions always - validly - surface.)
Someone will ALWAYS have this data stored somewhere, but if the data controllers limit it, YOU and I won't have it, be sure of that, and only someone ELSE will have it. I am not sure how putting cartographic data into the power of unknown data controllers increases my privacy, whereas I do know for sure that limits on Street View greatly limit my world.
Maybe I want to be able to see and show to others - online - the street where I grew up without having to fly there half-way around the world. Or maybe I want to be able to examine thoroughly a future vacation locale or a possible real estate purchase, like a home, without finding that a hotel is next to an oil refinery, or that the home is directly on a highway. Or maybe I want to check out local amenities and circumstances, like schools, shopping, dining, sports, recreation, etc., for a future change of residence or for a visit. There are many, many legitimate uses to Google Street View. I am at a loss to understand how the privacy of anyone is wrongfully infringed by showing the world as that world actually is - in its entirety - presuming of course that what is shown can be seen from public property and shows nothing that a normal passer-by could not see. That is why people who want greater privacy than is normal build hedges around their houses. Well, let them. But do not deny Street View to those of us who want to have it and who find it a welcome addition to the "real world".