Data Retention and Mass Surveillance

In 2004, after Madrid attacks, the European Commission proposed the data retention directive as a means to render mass surveillance not useful with a strict frame to access sensitive information recorded by telecom ope ators.
However, data retention has been cancelled by the European Court of Justice. As a consequence, in the many Member States, the national laws derived from this directive were also cancelled. Attempts from some countries to re-establish data retention in their national law without the support of this directive also failed.

We shall discuss the ethics of data retention: was it the needed legal and democratic framework to limit mass surveillance or was it some form of legalization of mass surveillance. We shall also explain how mass surveillance took place technically during its golden age and why it has proven not very useful.

This is not a debate about a past directive as the new ePrivacy regulation opens the door for a new form of data retention.


  • Prof. dr. C. Cuvelliez, ULB
  • Prof.dr. Ann Nowé, VUB
  • Mr. Yves Farjot, ex-CEO KPN Orange (now base)
  • Mr. Erick Cuvelier, Business and Technology Executive, CIO Thalys


  • Elie Jesuran, Consultant Big data & Analytics, Keyrus (Modart