Business rejects EU data law plans

The International Chamber of Commerce is heading a coalition of industry groups opposing mandatory data retention laws being...

The International Chamber of Commerce is heading a coalition of industry groups opposing mandatory data retention laws being discussed by EU ministers this week.

The ICC represents worldwide and European business, including most major electronic communications service providers and manufacturers. It is challenging EU member states on proposals that would require communication service providers to store details of all calls, e-mails and transactions for use by law enforcement agencies.

In a joint statement, the coalition said, "Business is concerned about the lack of co-ordination internationally. In addition, the low level of dialogue with experts will result in national policies on traffic data that severely harm communication service providers and, in turn, their end-user customers."

Maria Farrell, e-business, IT and telecoms commission at the ICC, said the coalition was opposed to data retention laws as in would put a huge burden on communication service providers. "We are also concerned about consumer privacy, particularly if customers lose trust in the communications infrastructure," which, she added, would be bad news for business.

Under the proposals ISPs and any business offering such services to its own customers would be required to retain all data.

Existing European Union plans would require communication service providers to bear the cost of retaining all communications data passing through their companies. Farrell was concerned by the lack of consultation with business over the data retention plans.

"We are not convinced law enforcement agencies understand how much data they'll have to deal with." Farrell said the coalition was opposed to data retention but supported data preservation where law enforcement agencies could ask a service provider to preserve data on a specified customer rather than for everyone.

Governments are looking to change data laws to fight crime and terrorism. But Farrell believed they needed a more focused approach. "We want to ensure the measured used to fight crime and terrorism are focussed and proportionate."

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