UK-led plans to have European-wide laws for storing details of telecoms and internet use have been attacked by the telecoms industry.
Five industry associations including ETNO, the lobby group for Europe's incumbent telcos, expressed "grave concerns" at a meeting of European Union justice and interior ministers in Gateshead yesterday.
ETNO, which includes BT, maintained that the plan is an "unsophisticated approach to a complex issue which risks endangering an existing excellent relationship with government and law enforcement".
The lobby group made a similar attack when the proposals were laid before ministers in July.
Under the plan firms are expected to retain phone and internet data for a year, although ministers have failed to agree on details of the implementation. Currently data retention varies widely between member states.
Even data on missed calls is considered part of the remit because they could provide vital contact information in cases of serious crime and terrorism.
ETNO insisted that implementing the plan would cost its members significant amounts, and that talks also need to focus on who will pay these extra costs.
The association estimates that it will cost larger operators like BT £124m to set up a database and a further £30m yearly to maintain it.
A spokeswoman for the Home Office declined to comment specifically on the Gateshead meeting, but said that the department is "working positively with the industry and is committed to ensuring that the cost impact is minimal".
She added that the Home Office estimates that for a mobile operator to implement the rules would cost £875,000 for storage and retrieval, and that operators will be able to recoup costs by levying £1 per subscriber enquiry.
"When you bear in mind that the average cost of a murder investigation is
half a million pounds it is clear that these plans are cost effective," said the
The UK plan is firmly supported by Ireland, France, Sweden and Spain.
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