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The European Parliament is scheduled to vote today on a report that calls for the abandonment of the proposed directive on data retention. The report, put forward by MEP Alexander Alvaro, describes the proposed legislation as disproportionate and unnecessary.

The parliamentary civil liberties committee has already accepted the report, and now activists are calling on Parliament itself to do the same. European Digital Rights (EDRI), an association of 17 civil rights organisations from 11 countries, has asked the parliament to adopt Alvaro's report.

The organisation has written an open letter to parliament, in which it describes data retention as "an invasive tool that interferes with the private lives of all 450 million people in the European Union". It warns that the proposal simultaneously expands surveillance powers, and reduces safeguards on human rights instruments, like the data protection directives, and the European Convention on Human Rights.

It points out that there has been no research into the need for the legislation, and that the proposed laws may in fact lack legal basis. The bill was proposed by the UK, Ireland and Sweden in the wake of the Madrid train bombings which killed 191 people. It is the fact that it was put forward by individual countries rather than the Commission cast some doubts over its legality.

Information Society commissioner Viviane Reding has also called for the bill to be redrafted, with a cap on how long data may be retained. She also said last week that it should encompass more issues than dealing with terrorism. ®

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