The European Parliament Committee on Freedoms and Citizens' Rights agreed on April 18 to adopt its second-reading Opinion on the draft Directive on the protection of personal data in the electronic communications sector. Passed by a paper-thin majority, the amendment repeats the Parliament's first-reading view that the customer's personal data should not be stored by the electronic services provider any longer than is necessary for billing purposes. If the Member States use their right to restrict the Directive's provisions so as to protect public security and conduct criminal investigations, such restrictions have to be appropriate, proportionate and for applied for a limited period. The amendment specifies that these measures have to be approved on a case-by-basis by the legal authorities.The Council has tightened up the Member States' right to waiver some of the Directive's provisions in the light of threats revealed by the September 11 terrorist attacks in the United States. The Commission says the Member States should be entitled to retain data for a limited period when this is justified by various reasons (set forth in the Council common position) in keeping with the general principles of EU law.The Parliament's May 15 plenary session vote will be of vital importance, according Statewatch, stressing that, to be adopted, the Parliamentary...

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