In the wake of last week's terror attacks in London, the European Union has decided to allow governments far greater access to cell phone and Internet communications as a counter-terrorism tool, a movement that could be considered a blow to civil liberties.
The justice ministers from the 25 member countries approved a measure requiring telecommunications companies to preserve records of all phone calls and emails for up to one year.
The companies would not be required to preserve content but would have to keep the traffic data -- details of who has contacted whom, where and when. This would enable police to detect emerging terrorist networks before they strike.
The legislation clarifying the legal basis for "Retention of Telecommunications Data" will be discussed in October 2005.
Most Europeans would welcome the new E.U. measures on telecommunications, as long as proper safeguards were kept. On the other hand, it might signal a "Big Brother society". It is certain however, that European internet users could witness a significant increase during their daily internet travels to US or worldwide servers.