TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: EU Committee Approves Telecom Data Storage Rules

EU Committee Approves Telecom Data Storage Rules

Huw Jones (
Thu, 24 Nov 2005 19:29:29 -0600

By Huw Jones

A European Union parliament committee voted on Thursday to keep
details of all EU-wide telephone calls and Internet use for six months
to a year to help combat terrorism and serious crime.

Telecoms firms typically store data for three months for billing
customers, but some member states such as Britain want data to be kept
for much longer.

The European Parliament's civil liberties committee voted by 33 to
eight in favor of the new rules, with five abstentions.

The full Parliament will vote on the measures in December, and member
state approval will also be needed before the rules become law.

Alexander Alvaro, the German liberal legislator in charge of the bill
in parliament, said after the vote that a more balanced text had
emerged, compared with what the European Commission proposed and with
what some member states want.

"Everything that makes this directive proportionate and balanced is
now in, especially concerning the limitation of data types, limitation
on storage period, safeguards on access and sanctions," Alvaro told
Reuters after the vote.

"It had a two-thirds majority in committee, and I think this is a
quite realistic estimation for plenary too," Alvaro added.

"Now Council (member states) will have to move."


Britain, the current EU president, wants rules on retaining telephone
and Internet usage details agreed between member states and the
parliament by the end of the year.

Britain sees the rules as an important way to tackle terrorism and
other serious crime, made more urgent after the deadly bomb attacks on
Madrid last year and on London in July.

In Thursday's vote, the committee also voted that member states should
reimburse telecoms firms for the additional costs of complying with
the new rules.

The lawmakers also voted in favor of inserting a new provision in the
bill to ensure "effective, proportionate and dissuasive penalties" for
infringements of the rules.

The committee also agreed that only a judge could authorize access to
telephone and Internet traffic, a condition absent in the Commission

"The Council has about 10 key flashpoints. They have problems with the
costs, the limitations on types of data, and they have problems with
access to data and the sanctions," Alvaro said.

Details on a fixed-line call would include name and address of caller,
number dialed, name and address of the receiver, the date and the
start and completion times of the call.

Details of a mobile phone call would include the subscriber's identity
number or SIM card and the location at the start of the call.

Internet data would include the IP address of the computer, telephone
number of connection to Internet, name and address of the subscriber
and the date and time of logging in and off.

The committee voted to make it optional to record information about
uncompleted calls, while the Council would like that to be mandatory.

Copyright 2005 Reuters Limited.

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