Every Google search to be logged and saved for two years under new Euro MP plan
Every Google web search could be stored for up to two years under a controversial new EU plan that has the backing of more than 300 Euro-MEPs.
'Written Declaration 29' is intended to be used as an early warning system to stop paedophiles by logging what they look for using search engines.
But civil liberty groups have hit out at the proposal which they say is a 'completely unjustifiable' intrusion into citizens' privacy.
And they claim that there is no evidence that it would even be effective in trapping paedophiles who would never use search engines like Google to look for child pornography.
The declaration, sponsored by an Italian and a Slovakian MEP, claims that it is 'essential to ensure that the internet continues to afford a high level of virtual democracy, which does not present any threat to women and children.'
The motion asks for Directive 2006/24/EC to be extended to all web search engines, which would include Google, as part of a European early warning system for paedophiles.
The directive came into effect in the March following the 2005 London terror attacks and lets EU member states monitor and store personal emails and other internet activity for up to two years for counter-terrorism puposes.
Simon Davies, director of Privacy International which campaigns for tougher privacy laws, said: 'Most paedophiles operate through chatrooms and private communication rather than search engines like Google so they would not be affected,' he added.
'The number of ‘false positives’ generated by the proposal would be very high, There would be 100 entirely reasonable searches thrown up for every genuinely suspicious one.
WHAT IS A WRITTEN DECLARATION?
Written Declarations in the European Parliament work in a similar way to Early Day Motions in the UK’s Parliament.
A group of up to five MEPs can submit a written declaration by presenting a text to be signed by their colleagues.
One is only adopted if more than half of MEPs sign up to it.
So far 324 MEPs have signed this declaration and only a further 45 names are required before it is formally adopted.
If the declaration is adopted it is forwarded to the President who will announce it in the EU Parliament
'It would pick up investigations being made by the authorities and the police themselves as well as academics. It would create a lot of white noise which would effectively cripple the police having to look into everything.
'Once the proposal is in place, then governments and authorities will be able to use the information for any purpose they choose.
'It would also be unlawful from a privacy perspective. We have well established laws in Europe that protect private communications. The idea that governments can destroy that protection is unthinkable.'
Some MEPs have already complained that they were not told about any possible privacy issues and the implications of the declaration when they signed.
They point out that the declaration only refers to the directive by its number, 2006/24/EC.
Swedish MEP Cecilia Wikström has complained that she was misled into signing and is urging her fellow MEPs to withdraw their names.
In an open letter to them, she wrote: 'The Written Declaration is supposed to be about an early-warning system for the protection of children.
‘Long-term storage of citizens’ data has clearly nothing to do with “early warning” for any purpose.
Anther Swedish MEP, Christian Engström, has also called on members of the public to contact their local MEP and explain that they had been misled before the declaration reaches the 369 name mark.
Sarah Gaskell, a spokeswoman for Open Europe, an independent think tank calling for EU reform, said the directive raised 'serious privacy concerns'
She said: 'MEPs should have a serious re-think before supporting this declaration which would open up even more of citizens' personal data to monitoring and abuse.
'People already have serious concerns about the EU's role in the erosion of their civil liberties and this declaration would only serve to reinforce those views.
'The Data Retention Directive has been very controversial with some member states refusing to even implement it. Extending it to internet searches as well is very troubling, even it the purpose it is intended for is a good one.'
And Dylan Sharpe, Campaign Director of civil liberties pressure group Big Brother Watch, said: 'Monitoring every internet search is a completely unjustifiable and disproportionate intrusion on our privacy.
'The MEPs responsible for proposing this law under the guise of preventing paedophilia should be ashamed of themselves.
'With Data Retention Directive already in place, this latest move suggests that the EU Parliament is intent on controlling what we look at on the internet.'
One of the MEPs behind the motion, Anna Zaborska, sparked controversy in her native Slovakia after she was once quoted as saying that ‘Aids is God's punishment for homosexuality’.
She has also been attacked for her outspoken views on abortion after she said that she did not believe that women should have them even in rape cases.
The EU motion follows moves by the Home Office last year to use telecoms firms such as Orange and BT to build a database of everyone's phone calls and emails.
Dubbed the 'snoopers charter', the £2bn Internet Modernisation Programme was kicked into the long grass by Labour after anger from civil liberty campaigners.
The coalition document released by the new Government last month was particularly vague about the programme and pledged only to 'end the storage of internet and email records without good reason'.
And it comes after Google admitted earlier this year that its Streetview cars had been inadvertently logging information about people’s online activity.
The internet giant was rapped by the Information Commissioner’s Office which said Google had committed ‘a breach of people's personal data’.