|Author (Person)||Cronin, David|
|Series Title||European Voice|
|Series Details||Vol.7, No.40, 1.11.01, p1|
Washington is urging the EU to redraft a key telecoms proposal over concerns that its data privacy clauses may deprive police of vital information in the fight against terrorism. European Voice has learned that President Bush has written to Belgian premier Guy Verhofstadt, current head of the EU presidency, expressing his fears that the new law could hinder criminal investigations. US officials say their administration's fears relate to terms stating that firms should not retain 'traffic data' beyond that necessary for billing customers. Such information would include details of the time e-mail messages were sent and from where.
One US official said the administration's concerns were mirrored by European police forces, who also believe the data protection directive may thwart investigations against child pornography on the internet. "This is not a US-EU issue," the official added. "It is more a question of law enforcement versus a strict interpretation of civil liberties."
While it had been hoped that the law would be adopted by EU telecoms ministers in December, the Belgian presidency has conceded that further work still has to be done. Since the 11 September atrocities, the UK has pressed for the debate on this law to be reopened. But the European Commission points out that a separate clause in the proposal lays down that member states may take what measures they deem necessary to protect national security. "We have seen the new situation created after 11 September and the Commission and member states have been looking at this issue from that new perspective," said Per Haugaard, spokesman for telecoms chief Erkki Liikanen. "On the other hand, we need to safeguard civil liberties."
Telecoms lobby ETNO says some of the companies it represents have been asked to keep traffic data by police investigating terrorism. The firms have cooperated with the requests but ETNO has spoken out against previous recommendations from police officers that firms should have to retain these details for up to seven years. "That would entail a huge cost," said its director, Michael Bartholomew. "We take our responsibility very seriously but it would be unfair to suggest the US has the right to tell us how to deal with this issue." Italian Radical Marco Cappato, who is in charge of drafting the European Parliament's position on the data protection directive, has vowed he will not drop his demand that stringent privacy rules are upheld. His fellow MEPs are due to vote on his draft at their session in mid-November.
The US is urging the EU to redraft a key telecoms proposal over concerns that its data privacy clauses may deprive police of vital information in the fight against terrorism.
|Subject Categories||Internal Markets, Justice and Home Affairs, Values and Beliefs|
|Countries / Regions||United States|