http://www.smh.com.au/news/world/europe ... 48723.html
Sydney Morning Herald | December 4 2005
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.
"We have agreed to a system which gives flexibility to member states who want to go further," he said.
Ministers also agreed to a review procedure that could increase the amount of material collected.
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 and Italy led opposition to the plan. They argued setting up new EU legislation would contradict national laws that already go further.
The communications-tracking plan is among a number of priority measures EU governments are pushing through in the wake of the July attacks on London that killed 56 people, including four suicide bombers.
It will allow investigators to view logs of phone calls and email messages, but will not allow them to view content of the messages.
Mr Clarke said the agreement left it up to national authorities to decide whether telecoms companies should foot the bill for keeping such data, or be reimbursed by governments.
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.
Now I wonder what big brother has planned for us next! I think we should start shaving our heads and buying those cute lil' orange jump suits..welcome to 1984