SNP MEPS Oppose Intrusive Data Retention Laws

14 December 2005
SNP Europe Spokesman Alyn Smith has criticised new data retention measures approved by the European Parliament earlier today as unnecessary and overly intrusive.

Both Mr Smith and fellow SNP MEP Ian Hudghton opposed the plans saying that the UK EU Presidency had failed to make a convincing case.

The new rules described by opponents as "big brother laws" will oblige companies to store data including mobile phone records, e- mails, text messages and internet communications for up to two years.

Responding to the vote, Mr Smith said:

"This is a disappointment - nobody would disagree that we must leave no stone unturned in the fight against terrorism, but these proposals will not achieve the aim. These new rules are unnecessary, overly intrusive and I fear will prove very costly indeed. I find this a deeply disturbing development that has more to with governments spying on people's everyday lives than any meaningful effort to combat crime or terrorism. It is an unwarranted invasion of privacy.

"We could have put up with limited legislation covering certain types of phone record for limited periods of time - but the scope of this proposal is so huge that it has turned into an assault on civil liberties and personal freedoms.

"I'm disappointed that other MEPs did not join us in opposing these proposals. They're quick enough to talk about respecting civil liberties and the right to privacy when it suits them but when it comes to the crunch they're not willing to stand up and be counted."

Ian Hudghton MEP commented:

"Our parliamentary group has been leading opposition to these proposals and we've been highly critical throughout of what I suspect will turn out to be unwieldy and ineffective measures.

"I fear this will prove enormously costly and be of no help in combating terrorism as Charles Clarke has claimed. Instead, this attack on civil liberties could actually be used as propaganda by recruiting sergeants for terror, who have often proved quite adept at outwitting technological constraints."