Peru's New Data Retention Law Gives Police Warrantless Access To Real-Time And Historical Mobile Phone Geolocation Data
from the every-step-you-take,-I'll-be-watching-you dept
Techdirt has written a number of posts about the introduction of data retention laws around the world, as well as about the successful legal challenges that are being brought against them. Here’s another such law, this time from Peru, which has a particularly nasty twist, as the EFF reports:
The Peruvian President today adopted a legislative decree that will grant the police warrantless access to real time user location data on a 24/7 basis. But that’s not the worst part of the decree: it compels telecom providers to retain, for one year, data on who communicates with whom, for how long, and from where. It also allows the authorities access to the data in real time and online after seven days of the delivery of the court order. Moreover, it compels telecom providers to continue to retain the data for 24 more months in electronic storage. Adding insult to injury, the decree expressly states that location data is excluded from the privacy of communication guaranteed by the Peruvian Constitution.
Of course, as the famous example of Malte Spitz showed in 2011, the stream of geolocation data from a mobile phone provides an incredibly detailed picture of where someone goes, and even what they are doing when cross-referenced with other personal digital information. It’s pretty much equivalent to placing a tracking device on someone.
The EFF post goes on to point out that the move contradicts a variety of human rights obligations that Peru has undertaken to comply with. However, that is unlikely to move the Peruvian authorities much, just as it carries little weight with other countries that have brought in data retention laws. Unfortunately, the underlying problem is deeper than bad laws like Peru’s: it’s that surveillance in general, and blanket data retention in particular, have become normalized around the world. Until that is addressed, it remains a constant battle to challenge the laws that reflect that approach.