Written declaration 29 has been marketed within the European Parliament using a very emotionally loaded picture of a child, and talking about the need to set up an ”early warning system” to combat sexual child abuse.
In reality, however, the substance of the declaration is to call on the Commission to extend the Data retention directive to search engines, so that all searches done on for example Google will be monitored.
It is understandable if many Members of the European Parliament have been misled into signing the declaration, since the Data Retention Directive is never mentioned in any of the marketing material for the declaration, and is only referred to by its number 2006/24/EC in the declaration itself.
You can read more about the background in my previous blog post Written declaration 29, for data retention of Internet searches.
MEP Cecilia Wikström from the liberal group ALDE has written a letter to all fellow MEPs explaining how she was misled into signing the declaration:
Both of the two e-mails sent to MEPs focused on the early warning system and neither mentioned the data retention Directive. The website set up to support the written declaration also does not mention data retention, at least not in an obvious way. Even the written declaration itself does not mention the Directive by name, but only refers to its reference number.
Bearing in mind the fact that data retention is not relevant to an early-warning system and that none of the material made available to MEPs on the subject mentioned data retention, it seems very likely that MEPs signed the Written Declaration unaware of this aspect of the text, just like I did.
Ms. Wikström has now withdrawn her signature, and is urging all colleagues who have already signed to withdraw theirs as well.
So do I.
If you are a Member of the European Parliament and have been misled into signing the declaration, you can withdraw your signature from the declaration. To do this, you go to room PHS 02A30 in the Parliament building in Brussels, where the written declarations are kept.
In order for the withdrawal to have effect, you must do this before the declaration reaches 369 signatures (which would constitute a majority of the Members). Right now, the declaration is listed as having 324 signatures, so it is already dangerously close to adoption.
If the declaration reaches the magic 369 signatures and is adopted, the names of the signatories will be made public.
If you are a citizen concerned about the right to privacy and freedom on the Internet, you can help by sending a mail to the MEPs from your country, and explaining the issue to them.
Try to be as polite, brief, and factual as you can in your mail, and remember that most of the MEPs who have signed have probably been misled into doing so.
And please contact your MEPs as quickly as possible, so that the declaration does not get adopted before word about its real contents has spread.
Andra som skriver om den skrivna förklaringen Smile29 (in Swedish): Europaportalen, Nyheter 24, Anna Troberg, Kalle Vedin, Sultan, Satmaran, OpenEnd, Motpol, HAX 1, HAX 2, Christian Engström, Oscar Fredriksson, Albin Ring Boman, Lena Ek, Annie Johansson 1, Annie Johansson 2, Rose Marie Nelson Ekerå , Mark Klamberg, Farmor Gun, Apelsineld