Britain pledges to get deal on new EU anti-terror measures by year’s end | VailDaily.com

Britain pledges to get deal on new EU anti-terror measures by year’s end

Associated Press

NEWCASTLE, England – Britain pledged Friday to get the European Union to implement an ambitious package of anti-terror measures by year’s end, including plans to retain phone call and e-mail data, despite deep disagreements.Emerging from two days of talks with his EU counterparts, British Home Secretary Charles Clarke sounded optimistic that an agreement can be reached on Europe-wide legislation forcing telecommunications companies to keep records of phone and e-mail traffic and 11 other priority measures. These include tougher security at airports, sharing more intelligence and upgrading passports and identity cards.Talks on getting a deal on data retention have been bogged down for years but were put on a fast track after the London bombings in July that killed 52 people and the four suicide bombers.The European Parliament has threatened legal action to try to stop a deal and is demanding a say over the proposal, arguing it could violate citizens’ rights to privacy.Clarke said he received a positive message from the EU assembly that it will speed up a review of the legislation if it is given a larger oversight role.”There is a very real sense … that it would be completely ludicrous at a time when there is a terrorist threat” to continue a deadlock over proposals designed to combat terrorism as well as organized crime across the 25-nation EU, Clarke said.He warned, however, that if EU governments and the EU parliament could not reach agreement, EU nations “will proceed on their own.”Clarke said the EU had to move quickly.”There is no question of watering down, we cannot water down, … because the peoples of our countries are absolutely insistent, and rightly so, that we take the strongest possible measures to deal with counterterrorism,” Clarke said.Luxembourg Justice Minister Luc Frieden said getting a deal by the end of the year was “unrealistic,” noting that EU countries have yet to agree for how long phone calls or e-mails should be kept or who should pay for keeping the data available – phone companies or governments.Industry representatives urged the EU ministers Thursday to take more time to work on the complex plan, and not ram through the legislation without their backing.They said retaining vast amounts of telephone and e-mail traffic could cost the industry $124 million in additional costs.Britain wants such a law to compel phone networks and Internet operators to keep traffic data on record for at least 12 months.Clarke also called for the EU to consider curbing human rights to allow for forcible deportation of people for inciting hatred or encouraging terrorism.He has found support for forced deportations from Italy and the Netherlands.Vail – Colorado