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The European Commission's Directorates-General for Information Society (DG-INFSO) and Justice and Home Affairs (DG-JAI) have today published a joint consultation document on the issue traffic data retention.


This follows a recent initiative taken by the governments of four EU Member States (UK, Ireland, France and Sweden), which tabled a proposal for an EU Council Framework Decision under Title VI of the Treaty on European Union, entitled: "Draft Council Framework Decision on the Retention of Data Processed and Stored in Connection With the Provision Of Publicly Available Electronic Communications Services or Data on Public Communications Networks for the Purpose Of Prevention, Investigation, Detection And Prosecution of Crime and Criminal Offences Including Terrorism (document 8958/04 CRIMORG 49, TELECOM82)".


The deadline for sending in contributions to the European Commission's consultation is 15 Sep 2004. Contributions will not be made public. A public workshop on this subject will also be organised by the European Commission in September 2004 (date is not yet specified).


The European Commission is particularly interested in contributions describing existing practices of data retention and has questions on data retention for law enforcement purposes at EU level.



1. Existing practices


The Commission requests input and comments on the following issues:



  • current practices of traffic data storage for business purposes, including how long the traffic data are stored, according to services concerned (e.g. fixed telephony, mobile telephony, SMS, MMS, e-mail and internet-related usage) and types of offerings (e.g. flat rate services, prepaid services);
  • current practices for public authorities to access and/or preserve the data stored, according to services concerned (e.g. fixed telephony, mobile telephony, SMS, MMS, e-mail and internet-related usage) and types of offerings (e.g. flat rate services, prepaid services), and in particular:

    • the nature and the age of the data requested by law enforcement authorities;
    • the number and frequency at which requests for given types of data are made;
    • the procedures to which such requests are submitted;
    • if and how additional costs are taken into account or reimbursed;
    • the effectiveness of current access regimes.

2. Data retention for law enforcement purposes at EU level


The Commission requests input and comments on the following issues:



  • the extent of the need for a common data retention regime at EU level for law enforcement purposes, and its scope, including for what types of traffic data (e.g. covering fixed and/or mobile telephony, or covering also SMS/MMS, e-mail and other internet related services);
  • the features of such a common data retention regime at EU level for law enforcement purposes, including :

    • the types of data that should be retained by operators for each service (for e.g. fixed telephony, mobile telephony, SMS, MMS, e-mail, internet-related data etc.);
    • the period of time, according to the services and to the data concerned;
    • the financial implications of data retention.

  • the technical feasibility of specific data retention requirements, in relation to the cost of data retention requirements in specific services (e.g. fixed telephony, mobile telephony, SMS, MMS, eail, internet-related data etc.) or offerings.

Responses should not only address current, well established technologies but should also take into account technology developments (e.g. VoIP and broadband).


The full text of the consultation document can be accessed by clicking here.