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EU ministers want phone and e-mail records

European Union home affairs ministers are drawing up pan-European rules on accessing citizens’ phone and e-mail records, in response to the Madrid and London bombings.

European Union home affairs ministers are drawing up pan-European rules on accessing citizens’ phone and e-mail records, in response to the Madrid and London bombings.

They met in Brussels yesterday (Wednesday 13 July 2005) and agreed that phone and e-mail records for any European citizen should be available to any national police force investigating crimes, for between one and three years.

The ruling will affect fixed-line and mobile phone companies and ISPs. The rules will face opposition on both privacy and cost grounds in the European parliament.

The ministers promised that the content of communications would not be stored, only details such as the date, time, duration and the destination of the communication.  

The European Commission will have its own input into the proposed rules before they are formerly tabled by home affairs ministers in October.

UK phone companies are already required to store phone records for a year to assist criminal investigations, but police have no automatic powers here to get the records of foreign nationals.

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