New European Data Retention Law Up For Vote

13 Dec ’05

The European Parliament votes Wednesday on the proposed new data retention law. From the NYT:

The European Parliament is expected to approve legislation Wednesday that would require telecommunications companies to keep details on their clients’ phone calls, faxes and e-mail messages for six months to two years to help combat terrorism.

The legislation, written in September, is coming up for a vote in record time. Though it generally takes a year to 18 months to bring a law to a vote, the countries that make up the union back the legislation, which comes in the wake of terrorist attacks in London last summer and Madrid last year.

The version of the law that Parliament will vote on Wednesday was written by Britain. It would require phone companies to keep information like the time of phone calls or fax transmissions, the phone numbers of incoming and outgoing calls and the duration of the calls for at least two years. Details of e-mail activity would have to be stored for a minimum of six months.

Under existing Europe-wide data protection laws, companies are permitted to store this information only as long as it is needed for billing purposes, usually a month or two.

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