Volt opposes the data retention draft law

Volt opposes the data retention draft law

Feb 1, 2023, 9:50:19 PM UTC
The Luxembourg government is planning a law that would allow general data retention again. Volt opposes this.
cyber security

Some civil servants have been working for years on the bill, which has now been presented as a draft[1] by the Minister of Justice and leading candidate of the Greens, Sam Tanson. After the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled in 2014 that unsolicited data retention (connection and location data) was invalid[2], Luxembourg never really reached a consensus on how to effectively store data in order to both fight crime and not violate the Court's ruling. There was never a consensus. Reporter.lu reports vividly on the issues at stake then and now.[3]

But now Sam Tanson, without much ado, without clarifications and without referring to old debates, has proposed a new law. According to the new law, data may once again be collected at places where large crowds of people are expected. Freely based on the principle: Who contacted whom at what time? (The content will not be stored, but IP addresses and locations) But what exactly is meant by “large crowds” remains uncertain. The main railway station was mentioned, but this region is also home to the newspapers with the largest circulation, which therefore also have to reckon with constant surveillance.

And what is considered sufficient reason to monitor a crowd? Again, no answer. According to the current draft law, it will be possible to closely monitor public Wi-Fi spots and demonstrations. Activists, but also journalists, can be deterred by this mass surveillance. According to Volt, this is a massive violation of people's freedoms, and it is not acceptable. People are put under general suspicion and the original reasoning of Sam Tanson to target terrorism, child sexual abuse material (CSAM) or organised crime with data retention disappears immediately, as any suspicion of a crime with a maximum sentence of at least 1 year in prison is sufficient reason for surveillance (this applies e.g. to the poisoning of animals or the insulting of members of parliament). Volt Europe clearly has digital rights in mind in its vision of its "Smart State" and we want to expand privacy and data protection, building on the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)[4], not shrink it! Encryption is key to ensuring online privacy. Volt will work to promote encryption of online communications. While effective protection against terrorist and criminal threats is critical, citizens must never accept mass surveillance as the norm, whether carried out by state or non-state actors.

We therefore strongly oppose this bill, speak out against data retention and can only agree with Benjamin Franklin, who in a letter uttered the very famous words: “Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”  Not only do people not deserve it, they will ultimately sacrifice freedom and security if we allow such mass surveillance.

[1] Press release and draft law: https://gouvernement.lu/fr/actualites/toutes_actualites/communiques/2023/01-janvier/25-tanson-loi-retention-donnees-caractere-personnel.html

[2] Court of Justice of the European Union. Press release Nr. 54/14: https://curia.europa.eu/jcms/upload/docs/application/pdf/2014-04/cp140054de.pdf

[3] https://www.reporter.lu/luxemburg-kommentar-vorratsdaten-groesstmoegliche-ueberwachung/

[4] EU data protection rules on the European Commission site: https://commission.europa.eu/law/law-topic/data-protection/eu-data-protection-rules_en

[5] Volt’s Mapping of Policies, Edition 8.3, Challenge 1 - Smart State. https://assets.volteuropa.org/2022-12/MoP%209.0%20Challenge%201%20Smart%20State.pdf (p. 42)