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EU executive plans no new data retention law

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Commission will not introduce a new law requiring telecom companies to store the communications data of European Union citizens for security purposes, the EU home affairs commissioner said on Thursday.

Since the deadly Islamist attacks in Paris in January, several European governments have called for stronger counter-terrorism measures, including greater cooperation from technology companies in removing terrorist content online.

In April last year the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled that an EU data retention directive requiring telecoms companies to store communications data for up to two years interfered with people’s right to privacy by creating the impression that their private lives are the subject of constant surveillance.

“On the data retention directive, the European Commission does not plan to present a new legislative initiative,” Dimitris Avramopoulos told a news conference in Brussels.

In July, Britain rushed through an emergency law requiring telecoms firms to retain customer data for a year.

“In the last months, it’s true to say that several member states have introduced or have prepared new legislation at national level, but our position as far as the Commission is concerned is very clear,” said Avramopoulos.

An internal Commission document circulated in January showed Avramopoulos was considering launching consultations to determine whether a new law on data retention that respects privacy rights could be prepared over the coming year.

Writing by Julia Fioretti; Editing by Mark Heinrich