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European Court of Justice finds Data Retention Directive invalid

Open Rights Group welcomed today’s declaration by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) that the Data Retention Directive is invalid. The Court found that the Directive severely interferes with the fundamental rights to respect for private life and to the protection of personal data. The ruling was prompted by two separate cases brought by Digital Rights Ireland and an Austrian group,  which includes privacy activists AK Vorrat Austria.

Open Rights Group Executive Director, Jim Killock said:

'Today’s ruling recognises that blanket data collection interferes with our privacy rights.  We must now see the repeal of national legislation that obliges telecoms companies to collect data about our personal phone calls, text messages, emails and internet usage. This collection is indiscriminate and reverses the presumption of innocent until proven guilty.'

The 2006 directive was introduced allegedly to help investigations into serious crime and terrorism but there were no restrictions to prevent it from being used for less serious misdemeanours, such as copyright breaches. Under the Directive, telecoms companies were obliged to collect and retain location and traffic data about phone calls, text messages, emails and internet use and retain that information for between six months and two years. The Court found that the Directive failed to state criteria that would ensure data was only kept for as long as is strictly necessary.

The ruling supports the earlier Opinion of Advocate General, Cruz Villalon, who in December 2013 found that the Directive was incompatible with the EU’s Charter of Fundamental Rights. At the time he proposed that the EU should be allowed time to adopt new legislation that would rectify the invalidity of the Directive. However today’s ruling found that the Directive is invalid with immediate effect.

For more information, please contact Pam Cowburn: pam@openrightsgroup.org, 07749785932.