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Irish police want access to mobile web browsing data

Little leprechauns act like Big Brother
Mon Nov 10 2008, 10:40

THE IRISH POLICE – the Garda – are asking telecom firms to hand over all information about which web pages people browse on their mobiles, as well as detailed content.

If mobile service providers agree, Irish police would gain access to both content and URLs of every web page browsed by handset, palmtop or mobile 3G users, in a move which goes well beyond complying with any EU data retention directive.

The Irish Times claims a letter has been sent from the Garda Commissioner to Vodafone, Ireland’s largest mobile service provider, appealing to the firm to act as "good citizens" and give up the information, purportedly to help criminal investigations.

Although both O2 and 3 Ireland have denied receiving a similar letter, the Times reckons the Garda wants to make Internet data storage a requirement for all mobile broadband providers.

According to the paper, reps from Vodafone are none too comfortable with the request, and are challenging its legality. Any information gathered by the Telecom would be hoarded and handed over without a warrant and even without the person whose data was being scrutinised being involved, or even suspected in a crime.

This would be taking the European Union's data retention directive to a whole new level, and may even violate EU data protection legislation.

The EU directive Ireland is scrambling to comply with only requests the retention of “traffic information” relating to phone and mobile calls which, incidentally, is already stored under Irish law since 1996.

So extreme are the new proposed measures that even the content of web-based email could be handed over to police, something Deputy Data Protection Commissioner, Gary Davis, calls “very concerning". µ


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