Sunday, March 18, 2012

Archived Data

Archived Data

In the UK, the operators tend to vary their approach to data retention made available to law enforcement and data subjects running between weeks and a couple of years. However, data retention governed by the Directive and Legislation may go beyond that period, for instance in commercial disputes.

There are many confusing and contradicting issues associated with retention of mobile call information. The legislation appears to create a brickwall blocking unnecessary data retention. Under analysis exclusions or argumentative approaches are revealed that can give the impression that the brickwall has so many holes that it appears to have more holes than a Jeyes Cloth (J-Cloth).

For instance, the operator can give to law enforcement a Gold Copy of the records - a suggestion of the title that it contains everything, but can actually mean it is the only copy remaining. However, given the original raw data may still be with the operator, then what do all these rules really mean?

Law enforcement keep data records for considerably longer than is perceived, but that seems rather obvious when considering 'cold case' reviews.

Solicitors keep records for years in case there is an Appeal/dispute.

Both the Data Protection Act 1998 and 1984 contain requirements associated with 'processed data' and the legal position regarding a processed state and, thus, data rention periods. However, raw data that is untreated is not subject to the DPA in the same way and therefore in a raw data state may remain for many years in an unprocessed state in archive. National Security therefore could have access to archived raw data processed years after the archive was first made, but equally in a processed state data can linger on than most specified periods.

Preservation is not new of course and historically some, prior to digital archiving, had their records recorded to microfiche and as banking records were important some used inventive methods to preserve material and purchased old mines and stored their data in micorfiche format deep in the vaults of the earth in order to main a cold temperature, which if temperature increased (heat) it degraded preservation of the microfiche material. Some figures for storage were 90 years, particularly health and safety records for employees who may have been exposed to working where pervasive toxic conditions existed but weren't fully recognised at the material times.

Digital archiving today uses a range of storage media from optical disks to various data storage containment. It has been said that because of the recording properties of a SIM card data can be retained on a SIM card without degradation for upto 100 years; 50 years may be good though. So SIM maybe used under certain conditions for archive.

For mixed principles of data retention timescales the following provides useful guidance:


of 15 March 2006
on the retention of data generated or processed in connection with the provision of publicly
available electronic communications services or of public communications networks and amending
Directive 2002/58/EC

Article 6
Periods of retention
Member States shall ensure that the categories of data specified in
Article 5 are retained for periods of not less than six months and
not more than two years from the date of the communication.



Directive 2002/58/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council
of 12 July 2002
concerning the processing of personal data and the protection of privacy in the electronic communications sector (Directive on privacy and electronic communications)

(23) Confidentiality of communications should also be ensured in the course of lawful business practice. Where necessary and legally authorised, communications can be recorded for the purpose of providing evidence of a commercial transaction. Directive 95/46/EC applies to such processing. Parties to the communications should be informed prior to the recording about the recording, its purpose and the duration of its storage. The recorded communication should be erased as soon as possible and in any case at the latest by the end of the period during which the transaction can be lawfully challenged.

[Note: retention of data for commercial disputes is considered to be custom and trade, and this can be equivalent to six years]



Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001
102 to 105 Codes and agreements about the retention of communications data

[Note allows for retention periods longer than Directive on privacy and electronic communications and the Data Protection Act (


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