Groups and Companies to Congress: Reject Data Retention Mandates

Washington D.C. – Today, a coalition of groups and companies advocating for surveillance reform sent a letter to Senate leaders opposing any legislative mandates for companies to retain customer data. Currently,internet service providers, telephone companies, and others maintain customer records for billing or other business purposes. Some in the Senate have suggested requiring companies to hold that data for mandated periods to be available for law enforcement and surveillance.

The groups write: “Indiscriminate data retention mandates intrude upon privacy, chill freedom of expression and association, needlessly expose users to risks of data theft or misuse, and significantly increase operating costs for small and large businesses.”

“Mandated data retention puts users at risk and serves no discernible security purpose,” said Amie Stepanovich, Access’ U.S. Policy Manager. “Users are most secure when companies adhere to fair information practices, including retaining personal data no longer than necessary in the course of business.”

The letter was signed by Access, Demand Progress, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, New America’s Open Technology Institute, TechFreedom, Silent Circle, and Sonic, among others. Attached was a separate letter explaining the dangers of data retention, signed last year by nearly two dozen noted technology experts and academics.

“The European Court of Justice struck down data retention last year calling it a ‘wide-ranging and particularly serious interference with the fundamental rights to respect for private life and to the protection of personal data,’” Stepanovich continued. “The U.S. should not take a huge step backward by promulgating laws that violate human rights and create new vulnerabilities for users. We will strongly oppose any proposed data retention mandates.”