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European MPs back web-search data retention plan

MEPs say this will help develop an "early warning system" against online sex offenders.

A plan to force search engines to store details of web searches for up to two years has the backing of 324 Members of the European Parliament (MEPs), reports the Independent.

The MEPs say such a requirement will help develop an "early warning system" against online sex offenders. However, civil liberties groups have criticised the plan saying it will lead to increased surveillance of internet activity and infringe privacy.

The proposal, called Written Declaration 29, will need the backing of 369 MEPs to be sent to the European Commission for examination, which is not obliged to make it law.

Present legislation requires internet service providers to retain basic session data for up to two years.

Civil liberties organisation Privacy International said it would back initiatives that were "carefully and sensitively designed" but the current proposal appeared to be "illegal and counter-productive".