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Government seeks data-retention law after EU verdict

Published:Friday | July 11, 2014 | 12:00 AM


Concerned after a European court ruled in favour of citizens' right to privacy, Britain's prime minister pledged yesterday to rush through emergency measures to force phone and Internet companies to store call-and-search records for a year.

The European Court of Justice ruled in April that a European Union directive requiring companies to store communications data for up to two years was too broad and a threat to privacy rights.

Prime Minister David Cameron said yesterday, without the emergency law, governments would be less able to protect the country from paedophiles, gangsters, and terrorists.

Cameron said the UK legislation will respond to the court's concerns and provide a clear legal basis for companies to retain communications metadata such as phone call records or Internet search records. This does not include the content of the communications themselves. Without such action, telecommunications providers would start deleting the information, leaving a vacuum for law- enforcement agencies and intelligence services, he said.

"Sometimes, in the dangerous world in which we live, we need our security services to listen to someone's phone and read their emails to identify and disrupt a terrorist plot," Cameron told reporters. "As prime minister, I know of examples where doing this has stopped a terrorist attack."