Monday, December 05, 2005

Europe Plans to Track All Phone Calls and Emails

European ministers have agreed on plans that will force telecommunications companies to retain phone and email logs for at least six months, to help investigations into terrorism and other serious crimes.

"It is an essential tool for law enforcement," said British Home Secretary Charles Clarke, who chaired the ministers' meeting.

He said the plans allowed governments to decide how long telecoms companies in their nations should retain the data, as long as it was between six and 24 months...

...Mr Clarke said terrorist groups, drug dealers and people-trafficking gangs would be targeted.

"If you can discover what the network is, who they communicate with, how they operate, you can begin to make the connections - and that can make a very big difference," he explained. He said he was optimistic the European Parliament would adopt the bill this month - meaning it could come into force next year...

...Ireland warned it would take the EU to court if it moved ahead with the proposal as it stood.

Civil rights groups and many EU politicians warn the plan could violate personal freedoms and privacy rules under EU law.