There was some discussion of my previous post on Proinsias De Rossa’s vote, making him the only Irish MEP to vote in favour of the Data Retention Directive passed in December of last year. (More comments here and here)
I posted his statement following the vote.
Now I thought I’d post his response to my email, which landed with me today. And under that you can read what he said before the European Election. (cf The Sunday Business Post)
Thank you for your recent emails on the issue of Data Retention.
Proinsias De Rossa supported the compromise agreed between the EP and the Council at the December EP Plenary Session which included important amendments of the Commission’s September 2005 proposal (see Socialist Group statement below) negotiated chiefly but not exclusively by the Socialist Group. This compromise proposal is clearly preferable to the alternative proposal put forward by the Governments of Ireland, Britain, France and Sweden in April 2004, based on on the so-called “third pillar” EU treaty provisions which leave the final decision entirely in the hands of national governments, no judicial oversight by the European Court of Justice and no democratic input by MEPs. On 27 September 2005, the EP had unanimously called for the rejection of this proposal, though the final decision is with national Ministers.
Proinsias De Rossa particularly welcomed the fact that the compromise measure is to be assessed three years after it comes into effect, with the full involvement of the European Parliament.
Proinsias received no letters or emails making the case against the four-country counter proposal issued in April 2004, only against the proposal which the Socialist Group had succeeded in sigificantly amending.
Further details on the compromise proposal are at http://www.europarl.eu.int/oeil/file.jsp?id=5275032.
The EP’s Press Service account of the vote is at:
Further details on the alternative four country proposal are at http://www.europarl.eu.int/oeil/file.jsp?id=5215602
Please do not hesitate to contact us further on this matter.
On behalf of Proinsias De Rossa MEP
Statement by Socialist Group, 15 December 2005
A European Parliament vote on retention of phone call and other communication records in the fight against terrorism and serious crime was today welcomed as a “well-balanced protection for citizens”.
Socialist spokeswoman on civil liberties, Martine Roure, said: “We urgently need a stricter policy to protect people’s private lives. This data is already being stored and used by the authorities. I welcome the compromise agreed on today.”
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; and
• INCLUDING data about location at the beginning of calls in order to prevent the profiling of people’s movements.
Said Ms Roure: “This agreement is a victory for the European Parliament. We successfully opposed the intention of member states to prevent any democratic debate on this question.”
Asked before the European Election “What are your views on data privacy, and what will you do as an MEP on this issue?” Mr. De Rossa replied as follows:
The protection of personal data is a fundamental right guaranteed by EU law, based onthe principle that everyone must be able to decide whether and how personal data concerning them can be collected and used. The protection of personal data must not be considered a barrier to the fight against terrorism, crime or organised crime, but a key element to preserve our fundamental values.
(from the Sunday Business Post)