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UK government plans reinstatement of metadata collection programs

updated 11:54 am EDT, Mon July 7, 2014

Collection of call, text, Internet data to continue under plans by UK ministers

The government of the United Kingdom seeks to force telecommunication companies to log records of calls, texts, and Internet usage for a 12-month period, according to a report. Ministers are said to be attempting to counteract the effects of an European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruling in April, by introducing surveillance laws reinstating powers struck down by the court's decision.

In April, the ECJ declared a directive for storing user's metadata for up to two years as invalid. The court found the 2006 Data Retention Directive interfered with the "fundamental rights to respect for private life and to the protection of personal data." It was noted that, while the directive was appropriate in terms of counter-terrorism, being brought into force after the Madrid bombings, the ECJ believed the directive was "wide-ranging" and caused serious interference with fundamental rights, and did not limit the interference to "what is strictly necessary." The court also questioned the data retention period length, as well as a lack of requirement for collected data to be kept within the EU.

The Guardian reports that the UK's Home Office, security services, and high-level government ministers feel compelled to act after the ruling, by passing a bill permitting such data collection again. The major political parties in the country appear to broadly accept the bill, though the Liberal Democrats are apparently against allowing it to have a greater reach than the controversial Communications Data Bill, also known as the "Snooper's Charter."

Report sources claim Liberal Democrat leader and deputy prime minister Nick Clegg was "open-minded" about the directive, but advised "There is no question of a snooper's charter, watered down or otherwise, being introduced by this government." The source added that the government needs to respond to the ECJ ruling, but "that is about the retention of existing powers rather than their extension."

Opposing party Labour is apparently in favor of adding a "sunset clause" to the bill, namely forcing it to be reviewed after a set period of time.

by MacNN Staff



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