Needless to say, the law proposal may affect fundamental human rights if passed. It is not necessarily the retention period of 15 years that creates the largest privacy concern. In our opinion, the fact that an intelligence agency may collect and analyse a very large amount of information about an indefinite group of people could irreversibly change the limits for how Norwegian authorities are allowed to work with and process sensitive personal data of citizens.
Firstly, the proposal will affect the right to data protection. A massive collection of personal data may be non-compliant with the principles in article 5 of the GDPR. Furthermore, it is likely that it will be more difficult for individuals to assert their rights to e.g. information, access and correction.
Secondly, the amendment may have an impact on the freedom of speech. Internet users that normally express themselves freely, will feel reserved knowing the risk of intelligence agencies storing their opinions and statements for 15 years. This “cooling effect” is particularly relevant as the collected data may be used as evidence in future criminal cases against a data subject.
As the proposal only applies to the open internet, i.e. data that is publicly available, the internet service providers (ISPs) and social media platforms will not, in our view, have more obligations if the amendment is passed. The police will assumingly crawl the information through artificial intelligence, algorithms and customised software. However, the new rules would probably have some impact on how the platforms are being used by citizens and by whom. It is easy to foresee lower activity on the social media platforms including fewer user posts – perhaps also filtered opinions and statements. As providers of social media platforms have based their business models on steadily increasing number of users and high expectations to online interactions, it goes without saying that the amendment may constitute a threat to these business models.