We, the undersigned organizations, urge the Honorable Senate of the Republic of Paraguay to reject the proposed bill that "establishes the obligation to retain traffic data" introduced by Senators Fernando Silva Facetti, Roberto Acevedo, Arnaldo Giuzzio and Arnoldo Wiens.
This bill, which was rejected unanimously by the Chamber of Deputies on March 12, has been sent to the Senate for its approval or rejection.
If adopted, the bill will force Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to store users' data for a period of twelve months. The data collected would include the source and destination of all communications, the time and date of all connection and disconnection logs, as well as details about the users' location and devices. This collection will track the online activities of millions of innocent users, and will be accessible to Paraguayan law enforcement as part of the investigation of any criminal offense.
This bill states that it does exclude the mass collection of the content of electronic communications. However, indiscriminate collection of "traffic" data and the cross-referencing of this information can reveal far more sensitive information than the bill's proponents have suggested in remarks to the media. Traffic data provides sufficient context to determine some of the most intimate details of the lives of Paraguayans, including where they live, work and the places they regularly visit. It can reveal their lists of friends and associations, their online habits, their personal preferences in every part of their private and political lives.
Civil society organizations, journalists, lawyers, online security experts, and human rights activists have recognized that the state has the obligation to investigate and punish the perpetrators of criminal offenses, online and offline. However, this bill does far more than just that. It radically transforms the legal basis for conducting surveillance.
With this bill, Paraguay would pass from a legal system where the authorization of communication surveillance is based on individualized suspicion following the commission of a criminal offense, to a system where surveillance is massive, non-selective, and conducted without any suspicion of criminal intent. The authorization to surveil would become a 'blank check' that would allow the collection of data of innocent individuals under the presumption that it should be available for future use by the authorities.
Conducting surveillance on the communications of innocent people as described in the proposed bill is a disproportionate and unnecessary measure in a democratic society where the rule of law must be respected. The bill fails to distinguish any situation when targeted surveillance might be justified or not, thus granting unchecked and excessive powers to intrude into the private lives of all Paraguayans. Furthermore, safeguards required by international law have not been included in the bill, including minimum guarantees for the protection of the privacy of individuals and their personal data.
In conclusion, this bill ignores the basic guarantees required by international human rights law. Its adoption will result in the violation of the right to freedom of expression and privacy, as enshrined in Paraguay's Constitution.
For these reasons, we call on the Paraguayan legislature to reject the traffic data retention bill outright.
Latin American Organizations
Asian, African, European and North American Organizations
CC: Mr. Robert Fry, Ambassador of Canada to Argentina and Paraguay
The Honourable Robert Nicholson, Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs