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Ireland: champion in requesting retained traffic data

31 July, 2013

This article is also available in:
Deutsch: Irland: Führend bei der Abfrage von Vorratsdaten

During the ECJ hearing on 9 July 2013 considering the legality of the European Data Retention Directive, it has come out that the Irish authorities are champions in requesting people’s data stored on phone or Internet, having made several times more such requests than other countries comparable in size.

The Data Retention Directive limits the use of such data to combating serious crime and terrorism. However, the Irish representative, told ECJ judges that “6 000 to 10 000” requests were made annually under the Irish law.

According to the a 2012 European Commission report regarding the data requests made in 2010 by member states, cited at the hearing as evidence in support of the directive’s implementation, Irish authorities (including the Garda, Revenue Commissioners and Defence Forces) made 14 928 data orders. The Department of Justice has recently confirmed 12 675 data requests for 2011. A spokesman for the Department of Justice told The Irish Times: “The communications data retention statistics for Ireland for 2012 are in the order of 9,000 requests.”

The UK refused to disclose figures at the ECJ hearing.

Meanwhile the counsel representing Austria, which is comparable in size with Ireland, said authorities had made 326 requests for data in a recent one-year period. Irrespective of which figure is considered for Ireland, the discrepancy is more than obvious.

To make thinks even worse, the spokesman from the Irish Department of Justice refused to give any details on the nature of the requests, stating: “It is not the practice nor would it be in the public interest to go into further detail of the provision of the data to the relevant authorities.”

At the same time, during the ECJ hearing, the representative of the Austrian government provided an extensive set of figures about the use of data stored by internet services and telecommunication providers, according to the Austrian data retention implementation programme (which is presently challenged at the Austrian Constitutional Court).

The classification of the cases presented by Austria - 16 thefts, 12 drug cases, 12 cases of stalking, 7 frauds and 9 others – brought about a critical question from ECJ Judge Thomas von Danwitz, the main court rapporteur for the case: "Was there a terrorist case?"

If none of the 326 requests made by Austria is about terrorism or serious crime, could we imagine what the 10 000 requests made by Ireland are for?

None of the representatives of the Member States present at the hearing was able to offer more solid statistics or any scientific data that would support the necessity of the directive.

State agencies target Irish phone and internet records (25.07.2013)

Data retention might not be proportional to risks (9.07.2013)

EDRi-gram: Data retention: "We ask the Court to rule in favour of Freedom" (17.07.2013)



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