[JURIST] [JURIST Europe] The two largest political parties in the European Parliament [official website] have agreed to support a draft bill designed to require all European-based telecommunications companies to store records of phone and email users for up to 24 months to aid in criminal investigations by police officials into serious crimes like terrorism. The head of the Civil Liberties Committee [official website] in the EU Parliament nonetheless criticized the Data Retention Bill [EU Parliament status page], which differs significantly from the earlier draft approved by the committee, as an invasion of privacy and warned that many national consititutional courts were likely to hold that the bills provisions violate fundamental rights in EU member-states. The draft bill leaves it up to the domestic governments to determine who will bear the cost of maintaining the database, a cost telecommunication companies say is beyond their means to absorb. The bill is up for approval in Strasbourg next week and the combined strength of the conservative European People's Party and the Party of European Socialists [political party websites] is more than enough to gain a majority vote. The International Herald Tribune has more.
D. Wes Rist is Bureau Chief for JURIST Europe, reporting European legal news from a European perspective. He is based in the UK.