Wednesday, 9 April 2014


The European Union High Court ruled yesterday that individual and infra-state mandates for telecommunication companies to retain customer data, in anticipation of—for the eventuality of surrendering that intelligence to authorities to combat the spectre of terrorism or organised crime are illegal.  The court opined that such broad directives, previously installed after the mass-transit bombings in London and Madrid and challenged by freedom groups in Austria and Ireland, infringed disproportionately on individuals’ right to privacy and ownership, integrity of their personal information and kept the populace under the same menacing aegis of dragnet surveillance that needs no competition or shadow.
Acknowledging that such omnipresence and onus has no place within the framework of European law (the public is better protected and served in perception and reality by professional and targeted investigations and not this theatre of pre-crime) is certainly a positive development, raking in some of the expansive and virtually unchecked inkpads of human activity—however, not only governments are possessed with a collecting mania (Sammelwut).  Even if the justices of the High Court are willing to diminish the jurisdiction of the state in such matters and demand that more precise language be in place to govern the retention and release of records, the demographics of marketers and buccaneers are divergently becoming something more and more specific and impugning.  Private individuals may be at the mercy of government agencies when it comes to the disposition of their data—however, someone is ultimately accountable; with industry, on the other hand, though profits and potential customers (or victims) drive research and stockpiling, the information that business has on people—both amalgamated and detailed, is given to those businesses voluntarily.  The authorities may have no claims of custody over such information, and no longer in a position to petition the public, progress may be forthcoming, but seem better custodians than business—retailers and providers alike, which politicians are reluctant to reign in.   In response, governments that tailored individual guidelines for telecommunications companies may want to also shirk their follow-on responsibilities to precisely define what warrants scrutiny and archiving.