Sun, May 19 2013
On January 7, about 50 protesters gathered in the centre of Sofia to rally against Bulgaria's adoption of the European data-retention directive.
Under the directive, Internet service providers (ISP) and telecom companies would be required to collect traffic data on their clients. Data collected for telephone calls would include the time the call was made, the number called and, for cellphones, data on the geographical position of the caller. In the case of ISPs, the data would include when and to what email addresses email has been sent, instant message contact names and times and dates they have been contacted, websites visited, and so on.
The European directive has been accepted in December 2005. Bulgarian Parliament recently approved the directive, which was published in the State Gazette on January 30 2008.
According to protesters, the data retention directive expands the rights of police surveillance and violates many of the instruments that guarantee human rights in Europe, including the Data Protection Directive and the European Convention on Human Rights, as well as article 34 of the Bulgarian constitution.
Article 34 of the Bulgarian constitution states that "the freedom and confidentiality of correspondence and all other communications shall be inviolable."
The directive was intended to register traffic data, not correspondence content. The problem is that with internet correspondence, they are often inseparable. The address of a website not only contains information on its location, but also on its content.
Protesters said that data retention means that government could interfere with a person's life and personal correspondence, irrespective of whether that person is suspected of a crime or not.
"No survey on the fight against terrorism, carried out anywhere in Europe, has concluded there was a need to create a database of such scale, which also contains confidential information," the protesters said in a media statement.
Many protesters were internet users, software developers and students. Posters they carried read "If you exchange freedom for security, you will end up losing both" and "No to eavesdropping on the Internet".
Some of the protesters had covered their heads with aluminium foil, which was said to prevent spying.
Protesters signed letters addressed to the State Commission on Information Technologies and Communication, which said that "data retention is not the solution" and urging it to "stop spying".
Bulgaria has requested the EU to be allowed to postpone the introduction of data retention for internet service providers until 2009. For fixed line and mobile telephone communications, the directive went into effect on February 2 2008.
Under the European directive, the data has to be stored for a minimum period of six months, but no longer than 2 years, leaving room for individual member states to decide how long they want to have the data kept. According to Bulgaria's Electronic Communication Law data should be retained for 12 months, Dnevnik daily said.
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