John Armitage on Fri, 29 Jun 2001 09:58:36 +0200 (CEST)

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[Nettime-bold] EU Council agrees to Internet snooping proposals

Here is yet another reason for Sean to be cheerful ...


Council agrees to Internet snooping proposals
11:33 Thursday 28th June 2001

Graeme Wearden (

The proposal could see all voice and data traffic stored for up to seven
years, but its critics hope it will be blocked by the
European Parliament

The Council of the European Union yesterday agreed a proposal
(,,s2086599,00.html) to
give individual countries the power to force telecoms and other
communications providers to keep records of all voice and
data communications of their citizens, possibly for years.

If adopted, the changes would give police access to telephone, email and
Internet records going back up to seven years,
although the length of time the records would be kept has not yet been
agreed. Furthermore, the European Parliament is
expected to reject the proposal, which faces strong opposition from privacy
advocates and many European politicians.

After what an EU press release described as "thorough debate", the council
agreed that the new directive on data protection
and privacy in the telecommunications sector would give member states the
power to bring in their own laws forcing network
and services providers to retain traffic data. Such information would be
available to law enforcement agencies

Britain has been lobbying the EU Telecommunications Council to accept the
proposals, in the face of heavy criticism
(,,s2090124,00.html). It claims they will
help in the fight against crime. According to the
Daily Telegraph, British officials at the EU have said that the changes will
help the police to detect child pornography,
incitement to racism and money laundering on the Net.

But the move is seen as a threat to civil liberties by, among others, the EU
data protection working party and Elizabeth
France, the UK's Information Commissioner (formerly the Data Protection
Commissioner). The European Commission and
the European Parliament have also both criticised the proposals.

Stefano Rodota, chairman of the EU Data Protection Commissioners Committee,
believes that the changes will break the
protections laid down in the European Convention of Human Rights.

"Systematic and preventive storage of EU citizens' communications and
related traffic data would undermine the fundamental
rights to privacy, data protection, freedom of expression, liberty and
presumption of innocence," Rodota warned recently in
a letter he sent to the Council of the European Union.

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