As of today, a new directive (PDF) is forcing European ISPs to keep details of user e-mails, website visits and 'net phone calls.
In the wake of the London bombings of 2005, a new directive has been drawn up that requires European ISPs to keep track of users' web movements, although not the content, for up to 12 months. The directive itself has already come under major fire from many ISPs and even some European countries though.
Jim Killock, the executive director of the Open Rights Group, criticized what he called a "crazy directive" with pertinent information on how it was passed. The EU passed it by "saying it was a commercial matter and not a police matter", he explained. "Because of that they got it through on a simple vote, rather than needing unanimity, which is required for policing matters."
Many ISPs have complained about the massive amounts of data storage needed to cope and the knock-on cost to the customers, but the UK government has already agreed to pay for some of the data storage costs.
Sweden has chosen to ignore the directive, while Germany is still dealing with a court case challenging its legal precedent.
The fear of terrorist threats may have ignited the directive's origins, but criminal action across the web is fueling it.
"Communications data is the where and when of the communication and plays a vital part in a wide range of criminal investigations and prevention of terrorist attacks, as well as contributing to public safety more generally," said the Home Office. "Without communications data resolving crimes such as the Rhys Jones murder would be very difficult if not impossible. Access to communications data is governed by the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA) which ensures that effective safeguards are in place and that the data can only be accessed when it is necessary and proportionate to do so."
It's strange that no-one knows what part of the Rhys Jones murder revolved around anything other than the murderer's mum burning a sim card, but I guess that's just "proportionate."
Source: BBC Tech