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Human Rights League crowdfunds fight against data law

09:44 25/02/2014

The Flemish League for Human Rights has launched a crowdfunding campaign to fight against the introduction of a new law on data retention by telecommunications companies. The new law, passed in the summer of 2013, obliges any company providing telephone or email services in Belgium to retain the meta-data relating to each phone call or email – the numbers or addresses of both parties, the length of the communication, the device used and more. The actual content of the message is not recorded.

Investigators and other supporters of the law say little will change: Companies already store such meta-data routinely, to compile customer bills, for example. The league considers the new law a breach of the right to privacy. “We know very well that these data can be important to investigations,” said the league’s lawyer Caroline De Geest. “Security is important, but so is privacy, and this new law, in our opinion, goes too far and breaches the right to privacy and the right to confidential communications.”

Together with its French-speaking counterpart, the league has filed an objection to the law with the Constitutional Court and has turned to crowdfunding to help pay the €5,000 costs associated with the action.

“The lawyer is prepared to start the procedure even if we don’t meet our target,” said the league’s Marion Van Hecke. “But we thought that, as the only Flemish organisation working on privacy, we ought to do our share. This is about privacy for everyone; everyone should be concerned about this.”

Written by Alan Hope