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Europe told to rethink e-privacy directive

Puts "fundamental and constitutional liberties" at risk

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Privacy expert and MEP Marco Cappato has written an open letter to the presidents of the European Council and EU Telecoms Council asking them to reconsider legislation due to be discussed in the European Parliament tomorrow.

The directive on protection of privacy in electronic communications has had several recent amendments following the 11 September attacks. Retention of telephone and Internet data will now become compulsory.

Cappato points out that this decision goes against human rights legislation passed on 13 November which prohibited any form of generalised and mass surveillance, and asks that constituent countries are instead given the freedom to decide their own approach.

Cappato also refers to communication between George Bush and the European Parliament in which the US President urged a change in the directive to remove the requirement for people to delete data once it no longer has a practical billing use. There remains no such law in the US, Cappato points out, and also argues that data retention is not analogous to tackling terrorism.

The letters ends: "In conclusion, the proposal the Council is examining to give to public authorities the mandate to supervise potentially all citizens must be rejected as it puts at stake fundamental and constitutional liberties, granted by the European Convention on Human Rights, without contributing to a more aimed and effective fight against criminality." ®

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