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Monday, June 17, 2024

Høyre loses voters on data storage deal

An unusual amount of members are leaving The Conservative party (Høyre) after the party decided to go along with a controversial EU-imposed directive to store personal data. Without Høyre’s support, the parliament had seemed poised to lodge its first veto ever.

Even though Norway is not a member of the EU, it’s expected to conform with directives because of its membership in the European Economic Area (EEA). Only the Labour Party (Arbeiderpartiet), however, has supported the directive that EU and EEA countries store personal communications data for between six and 24 months as part of efforts to fight terrorism and boost national security. Most of the other parties reject the directive because of privacy issues.

Last week, however, the Conservatives decided to back the measure, meaning that together with Labour, it will likely yield a majority and avoid a veto. Many Høyre voters feel betrayed, among them Georg Apenes, a party veteran and former head of the regulatory agency Datatilsynet.

“The directive will allow the state to keep an eye on its citizens without the citizens having done anything wrong, or planning to,” Apenes told newspaper Dagsavisen. He worries it will lead to unnecessary surveillance and set bad precedents.

“What will be next, shall we store health data, traffic data, genetic data?” Apenes said. The directive aims to store records of telephone calls, e-mail and Internet usage.

Høyre now must negotiate with Labour over how data storage shall be conducted, and for how long.

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