EC prepares interception directive for email

Spying is fine... just as long as you ask the country's bosses first...

Telecoms operators must allow law enforcement agencies to intercept e-mail messages according to new legislation being prepared by the European Commission.

The proposals, prompted by a perceived increase in crime over the Internet, will also look at the prevention of spam mail and anonymous and unsolicited messages. The drive will broaden existing EU data privacy directives to cover email, but is expected to suggest strict guidelines on exactly what communications can be intercepted and why.

The directive is due to be adopted by the Commission on 27 June.

Interception of electronic communications during criminal investigations or as a matter of national security is expected to be justified under the new directives. However, following France's allegations in February that the US and Great Britain were spying on French citizens without the consent of the French government, observers are predicting a specific directive addressing spying on member nations.

Encryption will also be addressed by the EU council of ministers who are working on a new regulatory framework that is expected to 'liberalise' exports in and out of Europe. The framework is due 13 June.

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