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UK details new laws to retain users' internet and phone activity

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Remember when the EU's Data Retention Directive, a requirement for all telecoms companies to record everyone's web and phone activity, was declared illegal by the European Court of Justice? As expected, UK Prime Minister David Cameron has announced that he'll pass emergency legislation that'll override the court's decision and restore this requirement, at least in the short term. The action has been taken since telecoms networks and ISPs were about to begin deleting this data, which the government believes would have harmed serious criminal investigations concerning sexual exploitation and counter-terrorism.

Cameron has pledged, however, that various failsafes and oversight bodies will be set up in order to protect individual citizen's privacy. For instance, any requests for data will have to be signed off by the home secretary, overseen by an "intercept commissioner" and subsequently looked at by an independent oversight panel. In addition, several governmental bodies that were previously able to request data directly from networks will either lose their power, or have to go via a single central authority. The law is also designed to expire at the end of 2016, offering the government a two-year window to both properly debate the policy and review the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act, with an eye to updating it for the digital age.

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