Danish police back online monitoring plans

Denmark's National Police Commissioner, Jens Henrik Højbjerg, has openly given his support to the government's proposal to re-introduce the mass collection of residents' internet data.

Danish police back online monitoring plans
Højbjerg believes 'session logging' is essential in fight against online crime. Photo: : John-Paul Bader/Flickr

The Danish government's controversial plan to reintroduce so-called ‘session logging’ received the backing of Danish National Police (Rigspolitiet) Commissioner Jens Henrik Højbjerg, who said the Justice Ministry's proposal would give police a means of tracking and catching criminals who are now conducting their illegal activities on the internet.

“Crime and communication is increasingly taking place in cyberspace. But our investigation opportunities are undermined if we do not have the opportunity to get information on internet traffic,” Højbjerg said speaking to Danish broadcaster DR.

Denmark scrapped the so-called ‘session logging’ in 2014 and the European Court of Justice has previously ruled that the blanket retention of internet usage is illegal.

Nevertheless, the current government is looking to not only bring back the practice, but also increase it. While the previous session logging system required telecommunications companies to carry out random checks, the new plan calls for “logging every individual session”, according to Jakob Willer, the director of the Telecom Industry Association.

Højbjerg's foray into a touchy political issue was unusual, but he said he felt the need to back the proposal due to increasing pressure the police are facing from serious online crime.

“I need to draw attention to the challenges police are facing, and will increasingly have to face in the future. Session logging is an important tool if we are to continue to combat serious crime,” he told DR.

The bill may have found an ally with Højbjerg, but criticism against the re-introduction of ‘session logging' has been fierce from across a broad spectrum of Danish businesses, companies and organisations.

Earlier this month, a letter penned to Justice Minister Søren Pind was co-signed by 25 different organisations and associations blasting the practice as “legally flawed” and based on an “unclear basis”.

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.

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