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Resistance to Danish online snooping plan picks up steam

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The so-called 'session logging' will allow the Danish government to mass collect online data. Photo: Jesse Knish/Flickr
14:23 CET+01:00
In an open letter to Justice Minister Søren Pind, 25 prominent Danish organizations have spoken out against plans to monitor internet use.

The government's plan to reintroduce the mass collection of data on residents' internet use has been strongly criticised in a letter co-signed by 25 different organisations and associations.

The letter addressed to Justice Minister Søren Pind of the ruling Venstre party opposes the return of so-called “session logging” as “legally flawed” and based on an “unclear basis”.

See also: Denmark wants to watch everything you do online

Denmark scrapped the practice in 2014 and the European Court of Justice has previously ruled that the blanket retention of internet usage is illegal, but the ministry not only plans to bring back session logging, it will go even further than before. 

While the previous session logging system required telecommunications companies to carry out random checks, Jakob Wille, director of the Telecom Industry Association, told news agency Ritzau that the new plan calls for “logging every individual session” of internet users. 

The letter signers come from a broad spectrum of companies and organisations including the The Danish Chamber of Commerce, Amnesty International, Danish Metal, the Danish Consumer Council, the Danish Energy Association and the Confederation for the Hospitality Industry.

The chairman of the IT professionals' association PROSA, Niels Bertelsen, was one of the signatories and said that Pind's plans go against the fundamental rights of Danish society and will be ineffective at preventing crime.

"What we have here is the use of technology to monitor the mass population. In this way, actually criminalizing much of the population. It is a violation of the rights you have in a country like Denmark, where one is innocent until proven otherwise," Bertelsen told Politiko.

"It cannot be used for anything. You might catch dumb criminals, but you'll catch them anyway. The clever criminals don't use means of communication that can be detected, " he added.  

Jacob Mchangama, the director of the think tank Justitia, was also involved with the penning of the letter and said that while the move seems to be aimed at tackling the growing presence of terrorist organisations on the internet, a more effective method is needed.

"It is clear that there has been a definite growth in terrorist threats and a migration from telephone to Internet data. But you have to ask whether this is absolutely necessary. Logging affects all people, including those who are not involved in organized crime or terrorism. It would have been good if there had been a more thorough evaluation, " Mchangama told Politiko.

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The bill has also faced strong opposition from within parliament. The Conservatives said on Monday that they could not support the government's proposal, joining the Liberal Alliance, Social Liberals (Radikale), Socialist People's Party and the Red-Green Alliance (Enhedslisten) in opposing the plan.

“We live in a liberal democracy and it should be a basic principle that we respect people's private lives. There is no place for the mass surveillance of residents who aren't suspected of any criminal activity at all,” Liberal Alliance spokeswoman Christina Egelund told Ritzau. 

The Telecom Industry Association has said that the costs of implementing the plan would be in the hundreds of millions of kroner. 

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