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EU scraps global Net tapping plans… for now

Current draft too vague

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Europe's plans to introduce a global wiretapping system including the monitoring of e-mails and the Internet are to be scrapped. The decision by the European Council of Member States to abandon the current text of the proposal is expected to be announced within the next two days before being formally set before the European Parliament on Thursday. According to senior sources close to the Finnish presidency of the EU, the European Council wants to redraft completely the text for the European recommendation on the Interception of Internet traffic, known as Enfopol. Britain and the Netherlands, alongside industry bodies such as the European Internet Services Providers Association (EuroISPA), have been lobbying for some time to get the draft dropped. Although the current draft looks set to be ditched, opponents to any form of government-sanctioned earwigging are still likely to be introduced at some point in the future. As it stands the current proposal would have allowed law enforcement authorities extensive access to communications performed via the Internet and other "new technologies". But opponents of the controversial text criticised it for being too vague and lacking in safeguards. In a statement today, Jean Christophe Le Toquin, president of EuroISPA, said: "The biggest flaw of the Enfopol proposal was that many of the points have not been clearly defined. "The current text calls for 'full time, real time access' to 'new' forms of communication, without even attempting to explain what exactly is or is not covered and would pay for the surveillance." While EuroISPA welcomed the news, it hopes that when Eurocrats embark on redrafting the next Enfopol document they will listen to -- and include -- industry experts as part of the discussions. Plans to proceed with Enfopol were postponed in May this year after it was decided that the introduction of a security blanket would simply be unworkable. ®

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