By Hilary White
BRUSSELS, June 23, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Promoted as a means of combating the sexual abuse of children, Written Declaration 29, sponsored by an Italian and Slovakian MEP, seeks to have Google and other online search engines store all search results in the EU for up to two years.
The declaration, already signed by 324 MEPs, demands that the existing Data Retention Directive be extended to cover search engines. A Written Declaration is similar to an Early Day Motion in the UK Parliament, or a Private Member’s Motion in the Canadian Parliament. A total of 369 signatures are required for a written declaration to be adopted.
The declaration is sponsored by Italian MEP Tiziano Motti and Slovakian MEP Anna Záborská. It asks the EU “to implement Directive 2006/24/EC and extend it to search engines in order to tackle online child pornography and sex offending rapidly and effectively.” The declaration claims it is “essential to ensure that the internet continues to afford a high level of virtual democracy, which does not present any threat to women and children.”
Directive 2006/24/EC was approved following the 2005 London terror attacks and allows EU member states to monitor and store personal emails and other internet activity for up to two years. Swedish Pirate Party MEP Christian Engstrom described the Data Retention Directive of 2006 as being “currently in various stages of implementation in the different member states.”
Engstrom said that the new declaration will be ineffective in fighting pedophilia and child pornography. Rather, he believes it may help increase the already overbearing intrusions by the EU into the lives of private citizens.
Although a written declaration is not legally binding, Engstrom said, the declaration will have the effect of providing “more gasoline to pour on the flames” of the movement within the EU to curtail personal liberties. He warned that such declarations are “an important signal to” such MEPs as Swedish Commissioner Cecilia Malmström, in charge of the EU’s office of Freedom, Security, and Justice, who has already proposed censoring the internet “with child pornography as the excuse.”
“She can then point at the parliament explicitly asking her to introduce data retention on Internet searches, and continue her crusade under the child pornography banner against the free and open Internet.”
Simon Davies, director of the civil liberties watchdog group Privacy International, told the Daily Mail, “Most paedophiles operate through chatrooms and private communication rather than search engines like Google so they would not be affected.”
The proposal, Davies said, would be “unlawful from a privacy perspective.”
“We have well established laws in Europe that protect private communications. The idea that governments can destroy that protection is unthinkable. Once the proposal is in place, then governments and authorities will be able to use the information for any purpose they choose.”
He warned that the number of “false positives” would be “very high.”
In addition to the threat to civil liberties, Davies said, the measure would impede the work of police investigating cases of child abuse. “It would create a lot of white noise which would effectively cripple the police [by] having to look into everything.”
Swedish MEP Cecilia Wikström complained in an open letter that she was misled into signing. She has urged fellow MEPs to withdraw their names.
She wrote, “The Written Declaration is supposed to be about an early-warning system for the protection of children. Long-term storage of citizens’ data has clearly nothing to do with ‘early warning’ for any purpose.”
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