EU slims down data retention proposal

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EU slims down data retention proposal

Δημοσίευση από KGP » 05 Ιουν 2005 19:46

EU slims down data retention proposal
Friday, June 03 2005
by Ciara O'Brien

In a bid to allay concerns raised by activists and telecoms, EU Ministers are proposing watered-down data retention rules.
The issue of retaining electronic communications records -- including e-mails, SMS messages and phone call logs -- has been a matter of debate in Brussels for months, with proponents of stringent data retention measures noting that the swift arrests following last year's Madrid train bombing were helped immeasurably by police access to phone records.

As such, Ireland, France, Britain and Sweden made a joint proposal last spring to introduce new legislation which would have required telecoms to keep records on phone calls for three or four years, and would have also required that content of e-mails and SMS messages be kept on file. For legal reasons, the proposal was later put forward by the European Commission itself, rather than by individual Member States.

But even before the Commission took up the mantle, activist's derided the proposal, claiming that the record-keeping measures would violate citizens' privacy. Meanwhile, Europe's phone companies and internet service providers also criticised the notion, saying that the volume of data involved was simply too much to store. Currently, records are kept for three months for billing purposes.

But under new proposals on Thursday from the Council of Ministers, data storage may be limited to a maximum of a year, and the content of phone conversations, text messages and e-mails would not be retained. What's more, EU ministers are pushing for a directive that would be entered into force in stages, so that the necessary equipment to track communications can be upgraded over time.

"In spite of a number of difficulties progress has been made," said Luxembourg's Justice Minister Luc Frieden in a Reuters report. "We all agreed that we need an instrument on data retention in order to act effectively against crime and to prevent crime," he said.

Reuters also notes that even the watered-down version of the new law may not be helpful to Europe's police forces. According to the news service, the European Confederation of Police, the representative body for police officers in the EU, has dismissed the measure, claiming it would take too long to search the records, and noting that criminals could circumvent the plan through the use of phone cards and unregistered mobile phones.
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