Data Retention: De Rossa’s Explanation

I haven’t seen this anywhere else and a number of the comments in the earlier post voiced a specific disappointment with Proinsias De Rossa’s decision, alone amongst Irish MEPs, to vote in favour of the Data Retention Directive.

So in the interests of fairness, I reproduce below his statement on the matter.


Labour Party MEP for Dublin

14 December 2005

McDowell should now adopt European Parliament’s Data Retention legislation

Speaking in Strasbourg as the European Parliament adopted proposals on Data Retention Proinsias De Rossa, Labour MEP for Dublin, said: “I welcome the European Parliament decision today to approve a proposal for a directive on data retention, heavily amended in the interests of citizens’ security and their rights to privacy. We urgently need a stricter policy to protect people’s private lives as the data concerned is already being stored and used by the authorities. The agreement reached in the European Parliament today represents a victory particularly as we successfully opposed the intention of member states to prevent any democratic debate on this question.

“Given our experience in Ireland, North & South, with paramilitary violence and organised criminal gangs we need the protection which mobile phone data retention has already provided. For example, some of the perpetrators of the Omagh bombing could not have been identified without that facility.

“What is necessary, and what the European Parliament today achieved through its amendments to the proposed directive, is a balance between citizens’ need for safety and their right to privacy.

“This legislation will be reviewed, and possibly improved, by the European Parliament in 3 years time in the light of political developments and experience of the measure. Political pressure must now be exerted on Minister McDowell to opt fully into this directive, which provides for a shorter period of retention than is provided for in current Irish Law.

He also adds, for the benefit of Editors;

The new EU rules allow retention of data on phone calls, including the identities of people involved, their physical locations and the length of calls – but not the content. Landline and mobile calls are covered along with Internet phone calls, e-mail and SMS.

Safeguards won by the Socialist Group include:
*Limiting retention of phone call data to inquiries into serious crime, in order to ensure proportionality;
*Introducing severe penal sanctions for abuse of personal information;
*Evaluating the measures three years after they take effect, with full involvement of the European Parliament;
*Including data about location at the beginning of calls in order to prevent the profiling of people’s movements.

Mr De Rossa followed the Socialist Party line on this issue, and says that the party was advised by Martine Roure MEP from the French Socialist Party. Ms. Roure was the Socialist Grouping’s Shadow Rapporteur in the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs.

(Attentive readers, our favourite kind here, will recall that it was this Committee’s agreed text which was shunted aside by the deal between the European Socialists (PES) and the European People’s Party (EPP) and the Council of Ministers.)

Ms. Roure advised the members of the PES “that the amended package represented a genuine improvement on the original proposal – and the best compromise position available given the political makeup of the European Parliament.” Mr. De Rossa clearly accepted this advice. Though given the opacity of the language with which he describes it, perhaps something was lost in translation. After all, it does seem a slightly circular argument of Ms Roure’s to suggest that the PES has to vote for the proposal because a majority of parties, including the PES, support it.

And the particularly cynical might point out that the reference to improvements from the original proposal neatly sidesteps the significant backwards step the final PES-supported version represented from the text agreed by the Committee of which Ms. Roure is a member.

But there you all are. Does it answer your questions? Specifically, what do you think of the list of safeguards the Socialist Party say they won?

I’d still wonder was the deal with the PES influenced by the fact that the Labour Party in the UK were the principal proponents of Data Retention.

I’d next wonder what kind of a reputation Martine Roure MEP has on matters like this? Any Francophone readers able to help us out?


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.