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LONDON (Reuters) – New rules announced by EU law enforcement authorities on Monday would make it harder for the police and other governments to tap into data held by telecoms giant British Telecom (BT.L).
A man types on a computer keyboard as he rides his bike through the streets of Frankfurt January 9, 2011. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach*
EU data protection authorities said new European Union (EU) competition rules would bar the companies from sharing private customer data that has already been bought from British Telecom and may be used to help them prosecute their competitors.
The new rules also include new protections for the privacy rights of EU citizens whose data is at risk as BT and other telecoms companies comply with European legislation on privacy rules.
“Whilst BT will be able to continue to operate lawfully within the European Union, as the European Union is based on the rule of law these actions are not in the interests of BT or of European citizens,” European Commission Vice President Neelie Kroes said in a statement. “We will now look at the new measures in detail and take action.”
The regulators said they would consider the new rules but would not take action until after EU legislation on competition laws had been finalised – likely in spring-summer. It is understood that the companies have already been preparing for months in London.
The new rules will affect more private data held by BT and other telecoms companies, including a huge database of phone calls and online banking and financial transactions.
BT has said if it had to share customer data under the regulations, it would be able to use information such as customer