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European Commission proposes stricter rules for electronic communication

[JURIST] The European Commission [official website] on Tuesday proposed rules [text] to bolster electronic communications as well as to [press release] "create new possibilities to process communication data and reinforce trust and security." The First Vice President stated that the proposals would "complete the EU data protection framework" and it is expected that the proposals will cover more sites such as Facebook and WhatsApp, present new business opportunities and increase spam protection. It is expected that the proposals will also increase enforcement measures and will bolster international communication by promoting "better law enforcement cooperation, while ensuring a high level of data protection."

Data collection and government surveillance continues to be a contentious issue worldwide since Edward Snowden revealed [JURIST report] the scale of bulk data collection in the US and the UK in 2013. Last month the European Court of Justice ruled [JURIST report] that "[g]eneral and indiscriminate retention" of e-mails and other electronic communications by governments is illegal, in a decision that many believe could create an opportunity for challenges to the UK's Investigatory Powers Bill. In November a US judge rejected [JURIST report] the New York Police Department's proposed settlement of a lawsuit accusing the department of improperly surveying the Muslim community. In February the US Department of Justice filed a motion to compel [JURIST report] Apple to unlock the encrypted iPhone belonging to one of the San Bernardino shooters. In January the Ontario Superior Court ruled [JURIST report] that police orders requiring telecommunications companies to hand over cellphone user data breached the Canadian Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms. Last year the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit issued an order allowing the NSA to continue compiling telephone records of a California-based law firm, just one week after a federal judge ruled [JURIST reports] against the part of the agency's surveillance program involving the bulk collection of domestic phone records.

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