Landmark Decison by the European Court: Data Retention Directive Invalid

Landmark Decison by the European Court: Data Retention Directive Invalid

On 8 April 2014 the Court of Justice of the European Union ruled that Directive 2006/24/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 15 March 2006 on data retention was invalid.

The ruling stated that:

It entails a wide-ranging and particularly serious interference with the fundamental rights to respect for private life and to the protection of personal data, without that interference being limited to what is strictly necessary.

This ruling follows the recent victories for Pirate policies in the European Parlaiment for net neutrality and open clinical trial data.  It means that the blanket collection and storage of data can no longer  be practiced by member states of the European Union.  It recognises that the retention of metadata is an attack on the fundamental rights of its citizens.

The Court observed that the data to be retained make it possible, in particular;
(1) to know the identity of the person with whom a subscriber or registered user has communicated and by what means,
(2) to identify the time of the communication as well as the place from which that communication took place and
(3) to know the frequency of the communications of the subscriber or registered user with certain persons during a given period. Those data, taken as a whole, may provide very precise information on the private lives of the persons whose data are retained, such as the habits of everyday life, permanent or temporary places of residence, daily or other movements, activities carried out, social relationships and the social environments frequented.

The court went on to say that a the retention was:

  • without any differentiation, limitation or exception being made in the light of the objective of fighting against serious crime.
  • without objective criterion which would ensure that the competent national authorities have access to the data and can use them only for the purposes of prevention, detection or criminal prosecutions.
  • without any distinction between the categories of data on the basis of the persons concerned or the possible usefulness of the data the data retention period – a period of at least six months.
  • without sufficient safeguards to ensure effective protection of the data against the risk of abuse and against any unlawful access and use of the data.
  • does not require that the data be retained within the EU. No doubt made at the behest of the NSA and Five Eyes members.

Pirate Party UK European Election Candidate Jack Allnutt said:

“This is what we have always said in the Pirate Party. Security does not trump all other rights – we should be treated as citizens, not suspects. It’s time Europe’s politicians woke up to this. That’s why we need a continued strong Pirate voice in the European Parliament.

We call on both the British government to immediately repeal the legislation implementing this directive into UK law and on European parliamentarians to have the courage to refuse to give in to calls for more mass surveillance law.”

The Chairman of the Pirate Party of North Rhine Westfalia and European Election Candidate Patrick Schiffer stated:

“Today’s decision of the European Court of Justice is a commitment to the European Charter of fundamental rights. I am reassured that at least the courts are keeping an eye on basic rights.”

Iceland’s Pirate Member of Parliament Birgitta Jónsdóttir tweeted:

#Iceland‬ chose to wait with ratification of the EU directive on#‎dataretention until #‎EU‬ Court of Justice ruled. I feel victorious.

Featured image: CC BY-NC TPCOM