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EU ministers tighten communications net on terror suspects

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EU ministers tighten communications net on terror suspects


Terror investigators will soon no longer need to ask suspects in the EU who they have been in contact with by phone or internet — they will be able to find out more easily than ever. The European Union’s justice and interior ministers have agreed to make telecoms companies store call and e-mail data for between six months and two years.

The measures became a priority for Britain during its EU presidency after the suicide bombings in London in July. It will be up to EU states to define for which serious offenses access to the data will be granted, also the level of compensation to telecoms operators, if any. British interior minister Charles Clarke brokered the compromise:

“We’ve agreed a system which gives flexibility to member states that want to go further to do that, and we’ve agreed a review procedure to continue raising the amount of material that we are able to collect in this interest.” Mobile phone information has provided investigators with vital crime clues, including at the scene of last year’s Madrid attacks.

Telephone numbers, length of calls, e-mail and Internet addresses will be registered, but not call or e-mail content. The agreement still needs to be endorsed by the European Parliament, which will vote on the proposals later this month.

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