EU states still negotiating data storage plan

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BRUSSELS (Reuters) - European Union member states are still working on a plan to store internet and telephone data to combat terror despite a rival proposal due from the European Commission on Wednesday.

A spokesman for the British presidency of the EU said no decision has been taken on whether to pull the member state proposal or press ahead regardless of the Commission's move.

"Genuinely the most important thing is to get this in place quickly," the spokesman said.

"The Commission will bring out its proposal on Wednesday and we will be able to look at them side-by-side and ministers will then take a view in October," he said.

The push for EU-wide data storage to help police fight terror and other serious crime came after the Madrid bomb attacks last year.

The drive was intensified after the London bomb attacks in July, when also Britain took over the rotating EU presidency.

The Commission's proposal will need to be agreed by a majority of member states and the European Parliament.

The rival member state plan will need unanimous agreement among the 25 EU governments, a tricky feat.

Some member states fear involving parliament will slow down legislation as EU lawmakers as seen as being more open to pressure from industry campaigners and civil liberties groups to water down the proposals.

A Commission source has said the Brussels executive wants data to be stored for a period between six months and year, while the member state proposal wants storage for at least a year.

The source said the Commission would require member states to compensate the industry for some of their storage costs while Britain has said the industry is rich enough to pay itself.
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