SNIA Weighs In on Anti-Terrorism

SNIA Europe chairman says group is ready to help IT meet newly suggested EU regulations

March 18, 2005

3 Min Read
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The Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA) Europe will leverage its worldwide membership to help IT professionals make sense of emerging anti-terrorism data retention policies in Europe.

According to chairman of SNIA Europe, Paul Talbut, an informal European Union meeting of interior ministers this week in Granada, Spain, shows ITers need to communicate with government bodies about the realities of data storage.

Five ministers from France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and the U.K. think more data is required to battle terrorism. They're calling for telecommunications companies to store their call records for access by law enforcement officials throughout Europe.

Details are sketchy. A report in London's Financial Times says the countries at this week's meeting hope to pressure other nations in the EU to save Internet and telecom data for at least one year. But online source German News reports that at least four EU members plan to require telecom providers to store data about connections and users for up to three years. The info would be made available to agencies in Europe to help fight suspected terrorist threats.

An EU spokesperson had not returned calls for clarification at press time.Any new EU initiatives would make more work for IT, at a time when regulatory compliance is already putting a strain on many European managers. They must cope with regulations from U.S.-based companies working in Europe, as well as with country-specific rules and ones pertaining to the European community.

Talbut thinks SNIA can help by working with other organizations worldwide to set standards for how and when to retain records. "We're already working with document management groups," he maintains. There's ARMA International, for instance, which supports professionals who keep digital or paper records. There's also AIIM, a group that supports users of enterprise content management.

A SNIA subgroup, the Data Management Forum, is also working on its own specs for ILM, data protection, and content-addressable storage, and Talbut thinks this effort needs to be shared as widely as possible. "There's an opportunity for organizations like SNIA to step in and restore the disconnect between lawmakers and IT managers," he says.

Actual EU legislation about storing telecom records, along with other kinds of mandates about data retention, have been opposed by civil rights groups in Europe for years. The groups are upset by the prospect of governments hording data on private citizens, and they're concerned about the work and money involved to do so.

The Granada meeting will be scrutinized as well. One European online source, the EU Observer, maintains this week's meeting in Granada was an attempt by the EU to create a database of information on suspected terrorists. By acting under the EU umbrella, the countries involved can bypass the difficulties of launching a data bank on a country-by-country level.Talbut acknowledges there could be a civil liberties battle. He also agrees this week's news could be a field day for various storage companies looking to make hay. But he's clear about his group's intentions: "Whenever there are issues like this and challenges, there's also opportunity, and there's the other side of the coin. SNIA responds only to end-user requirements for standards in this area," he says.

Mary Jander, Site Editor, Byte and Switch

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