The Dutch Parliament has opted for a 12 month data retention term in its implementation of the Data Retention Directive. The three party coalition split into three camps, arguing for 6, 12 and 18 month respectively. The Dutch government kept arguing for 18 months, but a majority voted for an amendment lowering the term to 12 months. The proposal still needs to pass the Dutch Senate, which has been rather critical of data retention ever since it has been on the EU agenda.
The 12 month term traces back to a report of the Erasmus University about the usefulness and necessity of data retention for telecommunicatiuon traffic and location data. After failing to prove such usefulness and necessity for data older than 3 months, the researchers had talks with police representatives. Based exclusively on those talks, the report recommended a 12 month retention period. Later on, the Council of State referred to that research and the proposed reasonable term of 12 months when it advised the government to lower the term to 12 months.
Although the debate focused a lot on the retention term, there are many other issues that were debated. One of them, the extent of parliamentary involvement with the contents of the decree containing more details about data retention in practice. The costs were also an issue of debate, but since there are no clear data on the precise scope of the data retention obligation for Internet traffic, the available cost estimates are vague. General costs of data retention will not be reimbursed. The question about storage of the data in centralized or decentralized facilities has been evaded. At first, the data will be stored decentrally but this could change in the future. An amendement that would have restricted the possibility of claiming complete data sets – to be used for data mining in the context of combatting terrorism – didn’t make it. If the law is passed, both national security and law enforcement agencies will have the possibility to claim complete parts of the collection of data to be retained.