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EU Ministers Seek Data Retention and Monitoring of Internet Searches

Posted: 07th Jun, 2010 By: MarkJ
europe mapSome 324 MEPs have signed a declaration (download PDF) that seeks to extend data retention rules (2006/24/EC) to internet search engines "in order to tackle online child pornography and sex offending rapidly and effectively". The EU could then use the new powers to setup a European Early Warning System (EWS).

MEP report authors, Tiziano Motti and Anna Záborská, said:

"The internet also allows paedophiles and sex offenders to enjoy freedom of action, putting them on the same footing as honest citizens and making it difficult for the authorities to trace them."

However some ministers are concerned that the monitoring of all internet searches would go too far and might even leave the door open for such data to be misused, such as for the purpose of "profiling" people based on their search activity.

Others fear that Rights Holders could one day get their hands on the same information and use it to tackle "suspected" copyright infringers. Ironically the criminal element would no doubt just switch to using free and easy anonymous proxy servers to avoid such restrictions. It's also unclear whether search engines or broadband ISPs would be responsible for tracking and storing the data.

The declaration itself, which requires 369 signatures before the European Parliament could adopt it, is incredibly vague and lacks any real detail. It should also be noted that the Internet Watch Foundation ( IWF ) currently works with most consumer UK ISPs to filter out such content without the need to directly monitor internet searches. This is a lot cheaper and seemingly just as effective.
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