OK, I thought it would take about half a year before I had to write this post, but sadly it didn't even take a whole month. I am writing about the situation in Austria here, but in my opinion this issue is relevant for all of Europe, if not the world.
As of April 1st 2012, all connection data on the internet as well as on mobile networks (including IP addresses, surfed websites, emails, calls and their location information, lenght of connection and so on) has to be stored by law by the ISPs or cellular providers for 6 months. This is called "Vorratsdatenspeicherung" in German and is the result of the EU wide Data Retention Directive. If you've got the nerve you can read the exact wording HERE.
The problem with this directive is that it
1. In essence ignores the fact that there is something called presumtion of innocence, a basic principle which serves as the foundation of much of our understanding of society
2. Violates privacy - a human right.
3. Is bound to be abused by law enforcement agencies and those who are willing to pay a price for a nice piece of data
4. Can be used to track your each and every step while on the cell phone - here's a nice example of what can be done with this kind of data
5. Is not going to make Europe a safer place but criminalizes millions of internet and cellphone users.
I think I could continue this list all day, but let's head to the original intent of my post. Politicians always wanted to sell us this directive as means to effectively fight radical groups and prevent the most serious crimes. Never was there a word that this would be used for crimes of a much lesser nature.
But now, not even a month after this bill has passed in Austria, the content industry is rising and demanding to use this data to hunt down copyright violators and raise the minimum sentence for these crimes over 2 years, which is the limit for accessing the connections. Further, they are demading to transfer the crimes from Civil to Criminal Law, in order to justify their actions. There are some articles in Austrian newspaper Der Standard (german only) which cover these claims by the Austrian Association for Anti-Piracy and the sentence by the Court of Justice of the European Community about Data Retention and File-Sharing.
And now it suddenly all makes sense - data retention was never intended to be used solely as a tool against terrorists, fitting in perfectly between ACTA, IPRED, INDECT, SOPA, PIPA, CISPA, ... you name it. It's a brave new world we're headed too!
But I wouldn't be posting this if there wasn't at least an opportunity of acting out against this nonsense. Again, I'm writing this now with citizens of Austria in mind, but there is a multitude of ways to act globally.
There is a class-action suit against the directive, which you can join at
All you have to do is fill in a form, print and send it before May 18 2012. More than 100.000 people have already petitioned online against it and this is the continuation of the resistance.
Get out there and spread the word!
P.S.: And if you'd rather browse anonymously, here's something useful:
P.P.S.: This is something all of those content-extremists should take to heart before lobbying for stricter laws. An interview by Gabe Newell (a sort of semi-god within the gaming community - creator of the Half-Life universe and founder of Valve and Steam, an online gaming platform) which basically boils down to one important statement:
"Piracy is almost always a service problem and not a pricing problem."
Text quoted from the original interview, which you can read in full HERE.