EU Data Retention Directive

On December 21, 2016 the Court of Justice of European Union (“CJEU”) issued its judgment in Joined Cases C-203/15 and C-698/15, Tele2 /Watson.

The decision considered the legality of UK and Swedish laws permitting the generalized retention of communications metadata (for 6-12 months) for the purposes of prevention, detection or prosecution of crime (not

 

  1. The CJEU “Right to be Forgotten” Ruling.  In May 2014, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) delivered an important judgement in a referral from Spain’s National High Court involving Google, a Spanish national, and the Spanish data protection authority (Case C-131/12).  The CJEU’s decision re-interpreted European data protection law to include a so-called “right to be forgotten” that enabled individuals to request search engines to block links that appear on searches of their names if the links go to information that is incomplete, inaccurate, irrelevant, or otherwise damaging to an individual’s privacy.  (This right is limited in the case of public figures, however.)  The decision also found that Google was subject to European data protection law because it operated subsidiaries in Europe whose business was to raise advertising revenues in relation to the search engine’s data processing activities.  The decision triggered an immediate tidal wave of tens of thousands of requests to Google and other search engines that continues to raise controversies to this day.
  1. CJEU strikes down the Data Retention Directive as invalid. In April 2014, the CJEU took the rare step of annulling the controversial Data Retention Directive, which mandated the systematic (“bulk”) retention of communications metadata by telecommunications companies in the EU, for potential access by law enforcement authorities (see our blog post here).  The Court criticised the Directive’s indiscriminate targeting of suspects and non-suspects alike, and the law’s general lack of safeguards, finding that it amounted to an “interference with the fundamental rights of practically the entire European population” contrary to Articles 7 and 8 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU.  The Directive’s invalidation raised questions about the continuing validity of the national laws that had implemented the Directive throughout the EU.  In the UK, this lead to the accelerated adoption of substitute legislation, the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act 2014 (“DRIPA”), and its implementing regulations.
    Continue Reading Top 10 International Privacy Developments of 2014

By Philippe Bradley and Mark Young

The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) today held that the EU Data Retention Directive (Directive 2006/24/EC)1 is invalid.  The CJEU ruled that the retention of data under the Directive constitutes an impermissibly broad and serious interference with fundamental human rights to private life and the protection of personal data.

The Data Retention Directive requires all EU Member States to ensure that communications service providers retain certain traffic, location and related data necessary to identify subscribers or users in relation to every communication carried (“communications data”), for the purpose of investigating, detecting and prosecuting “serious crime”, as defined by national law.  Today, the CJEU ruled that the Directive is unlawful despite its legitimate aim and the measures it put in place to protect retained data, and regardless of the fact that it does not require the content of communications to be retained.

The effect of the declaration of invalidity is immediate and effectively back-dated to the day on which the Data Retention Directive entered into force.  This raises interesting questions about the status of national implementing data retention laws (and possibly also about costs that service providers have incurred in complying with such laws), and whether the EU legislature will attempt to create an alternative data retention system that respects the limits set out in the ruling.


Continue Reading EU Data Retention Directive Declared Invalid by Court of Justice of the EU