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Sunday, April 21, 2024

Data retention veto may hurt

If Norwegian politicians veto an EU-directive on data retention, the country may find itself out of favor with EU officials in Brussels. Norway’s Labour Party-led government wants parliament to vote on whether to include the new EU rules in Norwegian law before Christmas.

A maze of new EU directives are sparking controversy in Norway, which is not a member of the EU but often needs to go along with EU rules to retain access to EU markets. PHOTO: EU Commission

Norway is usually among the first to implement new EU-directives in accordance with its European Economic Area (EEA) agreement (called EØS in Norwegian). In theory, Norway has the right to veto directives from Brussels, but so far this has never happened.

Last week a leading EU Commission bureaucrat told newspaper Aftenposten that there would be less reason for the EU to renew the EEA-agreement — which gives Norway access to the important EU market — if Norway vetoes EU directives. This week, the EU’s ambassador to Norway, János Herman, adds that the consequences of vetoing the Data Retention Directive (DRD) may be greater than had previously been thought.

According to the DRD, signatories will have to store citizens’ telecommunications data for six to 24 months. Police and security agencies would be able to ask the courts for details such as IP addresses and time of every e-mail, phone call and text message sent or received.

Several of the parties in the Norwegian Parliament (Storting) dislike the directive, citing legal issues and concerns about citizens’ privacy. At the moment, only the Labour Party supports the DRD, while all other parties, with the exception of the Conservatives, say that they are willing to veto it.

A number of other controversial EU directives are in the pipeline waiting to be integrated into Norwegian law. A directive liberalizing the market for postal services, for example, is seen as a threat against maintaining the same prices for sending mail throughout the country.  Curtailing Norwegian legislators’ ability to ban alcohol advertising in Norwegian broadcasts from abroad is another contentious issue arising from a new EU-directive.

Views and News from Norway/Sven Goll
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