[JURIST] EU justice and interior ministers meeting in Brussels Tuesday approved [European Council proceedings, PDF] a controversial data retention directive [DOC] passed by the European Parliament [JURIST report] in December designed to track down terrorists, paedophiles, and criminal gangs and calling for EU member states to store citizens' phone call and internet service data for 6 to 24 months without stipulating a maximum time period. The directive had sparked a year and a half of debate [JURIST news archive] among the member states over privacy issues.
While Britain, France, and Sweden are strong supporters of the measure, Ireland and Slovakia remain opposed, regarding national security as a matter for member states and not the EU. Ireland is considering an appeal to the European Court of Justice [official website]. European telecoms and internet service providers also oppose the measure [PDF]. EUObserver has more.