Consultation on EU Directive 2006/24/EC

The Home Office is currently consulting on the ‘final phase’ of the transposition of EU Directive 2006/24/EC on retaining data generated or processed in connection with the provision of publicly available electronic communications services or of public communications networks. This consultation closes on 31 Oct 2008. 

The Directive, to be implemented in the UK by March 2009, means that any Internet Service Providers (ISPs) would have to keep records on personal data traffic for at least 6 and no more than 24 months. This does not refer to the content of communications, but to who people are contacting, when and where they are communicating and what type of communication it is. This data would be made available to the police and other public authorities for crime or public order investigations.

The UK is intending to go one step further by introducing a draft communications bill this autumn, which would require ISPs to provide personal data to be input into a central database containing both Internet and mobile phone records. Public authorities would then not have to approach individual ISPs to request data, but just go straight to the database to access the information.

It is clear that this Directive will have an affect on library services, particularly those who provide wi-fi access, as they are providers of a public electronic communications service. However, the extent to which they will be affected is as yet uncertain. This will depend on how stringently the UK will implement the legislation. (Individual EU Member States can introduce measures based on an EU Directive, thereby allowing variations between countries.)

This comes on the back of the recently published CILIP report on Police, Surveillance and Libraries, which found that 75% of respondents (41 libraries) reported incidences of police or other security agency activity with regard to libraries and their users.

We would very much like to hear your thoughts on the implementation of the EU Directive, in particular with regards to library services. Do you feel that there are major concerns with regards to professional ethics, e.g. the right to user privacy? Do you think that such legislation is warranted?

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One Response

  1. The Home Office, in their consultation paper, points out that ISPs collect communications data anyway for their own purposes. I know that Scottish library authorities that offer WI-FI require users to be a member (or guest member) of that library service for the purpose of signing acceptable use policies, etc. Will this Directive have a major affect on what libraries do already? It would be interesting to find out how much information libraries actually collect about their users’ internet use and how long this is kept.
    On a personal level it concerns me how much information the Government holds on us. I feel that this legislation further tips the balance against civil liberties in favour of national security.

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