EU Update

By Nick Aries


The draft EU Directive on retention of telecommunications data requires the retention of telecoms, e-mail and internet telephony data for a period of six to 24 months. On 14 December 2005, the European Parliament voted by a majority of 181 to accept a compromise proposal put forward by the European Council on 1 December. That compromise proposal amends the draft Directive adopted by the European Commission in September 2005.

The draft Directive has met with considerable opposition from civil rights campaigners and the telecommunications industry, but it now looks as though it will be approved in its compromise form at the next meeting of the Council of Ministers. Once it is in force, Member States will have 18 months in which to implement the Directive.

The retained data will be available for the purpose of the investigation, detection and prosecution of "serious crime” (to be defined in the national implementing law of the Member States). Quite apart from the privacy concerns of opposition groups, a controversial point is the lack of any obligation on Member States to reimburse service providers for the costs of retention. Some fear the cost will therefore be passed on to consumers.

To access the full text of the Resolution, please follow this link:

European Parliament legislative resolution on the proposal for a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on the retention of data processed in connection with the provision of public electronic communication services and amending Directive 2002/58/EC (COM(2005)0438 – C6-0293/2005 –2005/0182(COD)).

Data Transfers

The EC Article 29 Data Protection Working Party (an independent European wide advisory body on Data Protection and Privacy) has published a working paper on the interpretation of Article 26(1) of the EC Data Protection Directive. That article sets out derogations from the rule that personal data may only be transferred to non-EU countries that ensure adequate levels of protection.

To access the full text of the paper, please follow this link: