European Commission attempts to reduce data retention requirements

The European Commission is planning to table its own proposal in September regarding the retention of email and telecommunications for law enforcement purposes. This would pre-empt and reduce the current proposal from the EU Council of Ministers.

Graham Titterington, Principal Analyst of Ovum, comments: The EU Council of Ministers made its proposal after the Madrid train bombings, and resurrected it last month after the London bombings. It will require telcos and ISPs to retain logs of phone calls and email messages but not the content of the messages-. The Commission s proposal is more sympathetic to privacy concerns. It would cut the data retention period from four years in the Council s proposal, to between six months and a year. It also removes the requirement to log website visits and offers government money to telcos and ISPs to help them meet legislative requirements, whereas the Council wants the service providers to pay the full cost of retaining data for four years. The Commission has been boosted by research at the Erasmus University in the Netherlands, which showed that in nearly all cases where the police used traffic data to solve crimes, they only needed to go back three months into the records - and that telcos already hold this information for billing purposes. We could be heading for another EU political showdown over this issue, but this time the Commission will have most public and industrial opinion on its side. However, a decision needs to be implemented during 2005, so any battle over this should be short. Source: www.dmreview.coma>