Wednesday, November 02, 2005

International Data Retention

This is bizarre. Or, at least, the point where my knowledge of trans-national business/privacy laws breaks down.

O2, the second largest mobile operator in the UK, has been paid £875,000 to retain call data for a year. So first-off, that's public money being used to keep tabs ("spying", some might say) on the "public's" phone calls. (I say public, as a. everyone has a mobile phone now, and b. the plan's being extended to the other networks as we speak.)

But at the same time, a Spanish company, Telefonica, looks like it will be buying O2 up very soon.

The multi-level privacy aspects of this are confusing, although concerning either way. I'm not currently sure what the RIP Act says, although it looks like now that government plans have been thwarted by industries (complaining about retention costs) and civil liberty campaigners alike (although probably moreso the former...), they've opted for a different tack and are trying to get the data available through public-private economic coercion instead.

So does this mean that they're allowed to access the data, once it's stored and searchable, or does that still require some further passing of legislation?

And should we be raising questions about having this level of data being stored by a foreign-owned company? How do national/international surveillance laws get applied in this case?

Answers on a postcard...

No comments: