Internet service providers (ISP) will have to store details of web and email traffic and details of internet phone calls for 12 months from today as expanded European legislation comes into effect.
The legislation that came into force today requires internet service providers to retain details of user?s emails, net phone calls and other web traffic.
The European Parliament passed the Data Retention Directive
in 2006 in response to terrorist bombings in London in 2005. It required phone companies to store records of where and when phone calls were made.
The content of emails and phone calls will not be recorded or kept, but the details of the communications, such as who was in touch with whom, when and for how long, will be stored.
The EU legislation allows countries to choose a retention period of between six and 24 months.
ISPs will be forced to retain data on what communications were made from which internet protocol (IP) address or phone number, what the destination of that communication was, and its duration.
In the case of mobile phone calls, the data to be retained will also include information on which cell within a network a call was made from. This will give authorities an indication of the user's location at the time of the call.
The addresses of web pages visited do not need to be stored under the new rules. For internet access, ISPs only need to store the dates and times of a user connecting to the internet and disconnecting; the internet protocol (IP) address al
located to the user; and the user ID of the customer.
"This requirement, imposed on all all EU states, is a serious erosion of our fundamental human right to privacy," said Jim Killock, president of the Open Rights Group
"Privacy is recognised by European and British courts as a matter of right. The European Human Rights Convention states quite clearly that we have a right to a private life and correspondence, and the European Court of Human Rights has stated that traffic data is ?an integral element in the communications made?."
The cost retaining all the records that need to be retained is very high, and gonverments may have to repay ISPs for the cost required for the retained data.