BRUSSELS, Nov. 24 (UPI) -- European lawmakers are heading for a clash with EU governments after they voted Thursday to water down a draft bill on data retention.
EU governments want to force telecom companies to keep records of e-mails for six months and 6-24 months for telephone calls. They say the measure is needed to prevent terrorist attacks in Europe.
But members of the European Parliament's Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee Thursday said the proposal went too far. By a large majority, they voted for both Internet and telephone data to be stored for a maximum of 12 months and called on governments to reimburse telecom companies for the additional costs of keeping information. EU legislators also demanded penal sanctions for the misuse of data, something governments are set against.
Britain, which holds the rotating presidency of the European Union, wants the legislation in force by the end of the year, but the EU assembly's rewriting of the bill makes this unlikely.
German Liberal lawmaker Alexander Alvaro, who drafted parliament's report, described the vote as a "major success on a highly sensitive and delicate subject that seeks to strike a fair and workable balance between the needs of combating terrorism without eroding basic civil liberties and right to privacy."
However, not all members were delighted. Italian communist deputy Giusto Catania described the decision as a "Black Thursday for civil liberties."