European interior ministers are planning to meet this week to discuss proposals on forcing phone companies and ISPs to retain phone, mobile and e-mail records to help in the fight against terrorists.
Since last year’s Madrid bombings the debate over data retention has become a big issue for interior ministers, and the London bombings have pushed it even higher up the agenda.
Their initiative, however, is seen as clashing with moves by the European Commission to legislate on the retention of phone and e-mail records.
But as the commission has to harmonise legislation across all 25 EU members, any proposed directive could take a lot longer to get through the European parliament, where privacy concerns would be strong.
The interior ministers, led by Britain, are considering bypassing any delays on proposed data retention caused by the European parliament and the commission by drawing up their own rules.
If an agreement can be hammered out, individual member states would be responsible for policing the new rules that communication providers would have to follow.