Wednesday, July 13, 2005

UK seeks to fast-track EU anti-terror data law

Some will remember this proposal from one of my earlier posts about Sweden:

UK seeks to fast-track EU anti-terror data law

EU ministers are gathering for an emergency meeting on Wednesday (13 July) to debate anti-terrorist measures as a reaction to last week's attacks, which killed at least 52 people and injured some 700 in London's underground and a London bus. The UK presidency wants to push forward a plan to secure data retention from phone calls and emails, in order to assist investigators of criminal and terrorist acts. London originally tabled the proposal with three other countries - Ireland, France and Sweden - after the Madrid bomb explosions in March 2004. But the European Parliament rejected the move, arguing it was too expensive and technically complicated for telecommunication companies and internet providers to store the data. Several organisations campaigning for privacy issues also opposed the idea, pointing out there should be more balance between the effort to facilitate judicial and police cooperation and data protection. The original proposal suggests data from phone and mobile calls, text messages and emails should be stored by providers of these services for a minimum of one year and a maximum of three years. The stored information should only include the date, time and location of the communication by phone or internet, including numbers dialled - also in the case of unsuccessful calls, but not the content of the conversation. Critics of the idea suggest such a scheme would generate so much data that it would take the security services 50 years to run one search and the information would also be at great risk for abuse. At the same time, it is felt that terrorists would find ways to by-pass similar measures and communicate without leaving an electronic trail.

Turkey key to European security: Fischer

Squaring off on a key election campaign issue, German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer Tuesday affirmed that Turkey is key to European security and that talks on its E.U. membership application must go ahead. "After more than four decades of promises, it is very short-sighted to slam the door in Turkey's face," Fischer said after talks with European Union Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn. "It would be a very high price that we would have to pay if that happened," he said. Merkel's Christian Democrats currently are favoured to win a planned September general election in Germany over the fragile centre-left coalition of Social Democrats and Greens.


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