HideTechdirt is off for the long weekend! We'll be back with our regular posts tomorrow.
HideTechdirt is off for the long weekend! We'll be back with our regular posts tomorrow.

Belgian 'Royal Decree' Requires ISPs To Log All Sorts Of Info For A Year

from the invest-in-encryption-now dept

Theo Lietaert alerted us to the very troubling news out of Belgium, that a "royal decree" has been passed requiring Belgian telcos, internet service providers, information service providers, email providers, etc. to log a ridiculous amount of metadata for a year. The full decree (in French) includes an awful lot of information that will be tracked (though it's been published in a manner that's nearly impossible to read). Among the examples listed: how many emails you send, if you use a VoIP provider (like Skype), how long your calls are, how you pay your bills -- basically any and all (non-content) data that ISPs can collect, they are required to keep. And then they need to make it available to basically all law enforcement. That is, this is not just for anti-terrorism purposes, but for any government purpose under the sun, allowing them to troll through basically all of your internet activity.

The justification for all of this? Because law enforcement "needs" this data do their job better. This is not all that different than the excuses we've heard from those defending NSA surveillance, that this data is somehow "needed" because it might stop "bad guys." But that turns the privacy questions upside down entirely. As we've noted, law enforcement would, most likely, be able to stop a lot more crime if we were all required to have video cameras hooked up to a giant database installed in every room in every home. But we don't do that because it's a massive breach of privacy.

The ministers behind this abomination, Johan Vande Lanotte and Annemie Turtelboom appear to recognize that this goes "far beyond" what's allowed under the European privacy directive, but they don't seem to care, claiming that the privacy directive is "obsolete." The whole situation is fairly sketchy as well, since it was done by royal decree, allowing them to totally bypass Parliament, but is equally binding. I guess they're worried that Parliament (*gasp*) might actually protect the rights of the people.

This seems like a horrifyingly broad attack on privacy rights in Belgium, and while the Privacy Commission is reviewing the issue, it's possible that this will be considered the law in Belgium. If you're a VPN vendor, it would seem like a marketing campaign in Belgium might be appropriate just about now.
Hide this

Thank you for reading this Techdirt post. With so many things competing for everyone’s attention these days, we really appreciate you giving us your time. We work hard every day to put quality content out there for our community.

Techdirt is one of the few remaining truly independent media outlets. We do not have a giant corporation behind us, and we rely heavily on our community to support us, in an age when advertisers are increasingly uninterested in sponsoring small, independent sites — especially a site like ours that is unwilling to pull punches in its reporting and analysis.

While other websites have resorted to paywalls, registration requirements, and increasingly annoying/intrusive advertising, we have always kept Techdirt open and available to anyone. But in order to continue doing so, we need your support. We offer a variety of ways for our readers to support us, from direct donations to special subscriptions and cool merchandise — and every little bit helps. Thank you.

–The Techdirt Team

Filed Under: belgium, data collection, data retention, eu, metadata, privacy, privacy directive, royal decree

Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread

  1. icon
    Zakida Paul (profile), 9 Oct 2013 @ 10:48am

    If law enforcement needs all this data to do their job, their training must be piss poor.

Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter

Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Special Affiliate Offer

Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads

This site, like most other sites on the web, uses cookies. For more information, see our privacy policy. Got it

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.