Five years after introducing data retention laws, Danish police have just announced that they have not helped them in catching criminals. The Danish Ministry of Justice, in a recent report stated:
Session logging has caused serious practical problems…
The implementation of session logging proved to be unusable to the police; this became clear the first time they tried to use [the data] as part of a criminal investigation.
But Denmark isn’t alone. In 2011, the Scientific Services of the German Parliament found no significant change in the crime clearance rate (the number of crimes where charges have been laid divided by the total number of crimes reported) among European Union Member States between 2005 and 2010. Member of the German Working Group on Data Retention, Florian Altherr said at the time:
Since crime clearance trends are completely unaffected by the retention of communications data of non-suspects, there is no justification for the EU’s “big brother” policy of collecting telecommunications data on all 500 million EU citizens.
Meanwhile, the facts coming out of Denmark and Germany are falling on deaf ears back in Australia, with ASIO and the Australian Federal Police both heavily in favour of the concept of data retention.
The IPA’s Simon Breheny explained last year why we should all be concerned by such laws:
The draconian proposal would create an institutionalised system of government spying on all Australian citizens – just in case you’re subject to a criminal investigation…
[Silos full of personal information] would be begging to be attacked by the very hackers and identity thieves the proposal seeks to curb. In trying to solve a purported security problem it would be creating one of even greater enormity.
Cumbersome data retention regimes pose a long list of dangerous consequences for people’s safety and privacy with very little law enforcement benefits attached.