If you’re interested in learning more about Slovakia’s data retention laws, this is the article for you. You’ll learn how mandatory Slovakian data retention laws comply with EU regulations. We’ll also show you how to control your privacy online with a VPN.
Many countries throughout the EU have introduced or in the process of introducing various data retention laws, and Slovakia is no exception. These laws compel Internet service providers and telecommunication companies to retain certain user data for a time period. ISPs must also make it available for higher authorities such as law enforcement agencies. This is ostensibly for the purpose of combating crime, terrorism, and even domestic issues.
Data Retention in the EU
The European Union adopted the mandatory data retention legislation back in 2006, which forces its member states into implementing the Data Retention Directives (DRD).
Since then, the EU has received reports about the abuse of Internet and communications devices, leading to an increase in criminal activities. This has prompted the EU to introduce new data retention directives in response.
Data Retention Laws in Slovakia
Slovakia, being an EU member state, adopted the EU Data Retention Directives, forcing Slovakian internet service providers (ISPs) and telecom companies working in Europe to obtain and store user data including incoming and outgoing phone numbers, IP addresses, geolocation data, along with other network data for a period of six months to two years.
Notably, however, the legislation extends to keep a check on the communications of all citizens in Slovakia. Yes, this includes people who were not suspected or convicted of any crime, representing a vast overreach of power. ISPs collect and store information on email, VoIP, and other Internet connections for 6 months, and up to a year for all other communications. This affects even law-abiding citizens.
The EISI Fights Back
Supported by the European Information Society Institute in August 2012, a group of Slovakian member Parliamentarians filed a legal complaint against the legislation enforcing the data retention directives. As a result, the Slovak Constitutional Court sought an investigation into this legislation. The goal was to ensure they adhere to constitutional provisions on proportionality, the rights of privacy, safety and security of data, as well as provisions allowing the freedom of speech.
It also claims that the measures violate provisions assuring privacy, data protection and freedom of expression in Slovakian human rights law, the European Convention on Human Rights and the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. However, the complaint hasn’t been resolved yet.
The European Information Society Institute (EISI) was the actual pioneer who filed the complaint against these data directives. Moreover, they have supported this fight for the last two years. In one of the declaration by one of the lawyers, Martin Husovec of the EISI said:
After the General Prosecutor’s Office twice rejected our request to file this complaint before the Slovak Constitution Court, we had no other option than to prepare the template submission before the Constitutional Court ourselves and address the Member of Parliaments. The liberal member, Martin Poliacik, took a lead and persuaded other MPs. After two years of our hard work, we now have the case before the Constitutional Court.’Martin Poliacik
Anonymize Your Metadata with a VPN
So what can be done until the law is brought into line with basic human rights to privacy online? Individuals can opt to install a VPN, or virtual private network, onto their devices.
VPNs are indispensable cybersecurity tools. They wrap each packet of data leaving your device in an anonymizing layer of encryption, then pass it through a remote server thereby falsifying your IP address. Modern encryption methods are all but impossible to break, even for government agencies, so it is an effective method of retaining your online privacy.
We recommend the following two VPN providers for all privacy-conscious Internet users in Slovakia:
ExpressVPN stands out as the fastest provider on the market, but it comes complete with all the essential privacy provisions as well. There’s a massive network of 3,000+ servers spanning more than 94 countries worldwide, offering flexibility in optimizing your connection for speed and stability. Unbreakable 256-bit AES encryption locks down your data stream and prevents snooping third parties from interpreting a single byte of your business.
ExpressVPN’s attractive software suite is dead simple to install and use, and comes available for all major operating systems. Your subscription covers up to 5 devices connected at once as well. ExpressVPN is located in the British Virgin Islands, making it exempt from the 5, 9, and 14 Eyes international surveillance agreements. They also offer an attractive no-logging policy, ensuring that your VPN will never be able to tattle on you even under duress.
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NordVPN is a titan of the VPN industry, offering a plethora of cybersecurity features and a truly massive network numbering 5,100+ nodes in 59 countries around the world. Impenetrable 256-bit AES encryption guards your privacy online by default on all connections. There are also specialty servers optimized for P2P, multi-hop encryption, anti-DDoS, Onion Over VPN, and more. An independently audited and verified no-logging policy rounds out NordVPN’s robust package.
NordVPN software is available for all major operating systems, and your subscription protects up to 6 devices simultaneously.
BEST BUDGET VPN: NordVPN is your cheapest solution for a premium service. Readers get the 3-year plan with a 70% discount at just $3.49 per month. All plans include a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Make no mistake: Slovakia’s data retention laws compromise user privacy. There is some hope, since many courts in Slovakia and throughout Europe are pushing back. However, Slovakians should take control over their metadata by using a VPN in the meantime.
What do you think of privacy law trends in Slovakia and the EU? Do you think you’ll start using a VPN? If so, what are your major concerns leading you to do so? Let us know in the comments below.