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EU top court protests mass data retention

A month ago, we reported that the UK had approved the Investigatory Powers Bill, also known as “Snoopers’ Charter”. Among other things, the bill would force mass data retention from ISPs in the UK. Today, the European Union’s Court of Justice ruled that “Members States may not impose a general obligation to retain data on providers of electronic communications services”. In other words, countries within the EU cannot force their ISPs to retain a massive amount of data from their users.

In 2014, the same EU court rules in favour of Digital Rights Ireland against the retention of telecommunications data. It was found that acts such as Criminal Justice (Terrorist Offences) Act of 2005 were regularly abused and the Court of Justice aimed to put a stop to it. As one might expect, that did not actually stop mass surveillance. Sweden, for instance, continued to require data retention from its ISPs against the ruling.

The groundwork for this new decision was laid by Tele2 Sverige, an ISP in Sweden, back in 2014. Later, several UK MPs such as Tom Watson joined the case as they were opposed to both the Investigatory Powers Bill as well as previous acts of the British government including the (previously illegal) mass surveillance by the GCHQ.

The EU court’s response was clear: “In today’s judgement, the Court’s answer is that EU law precludes national legislation that prescribes general and indiscriminate retention of data”.

In addition to that, the court ruled that even in cases where data is retained, gaining access should involve a more rigorous review process. The language used here is somewhat problematic, however, because they once again spoke of the ‘urgency’ element which has often been used but rarely explained in-depth. Furthermore, the decision does not speak about surveillance and is merely concerned with data retention. The language used in legal cases is always important and it is vital to continue the opposition across both areas.

Those who were against the IP Bill and mass data retention in general were awarded a possible victory today. Of course, the EU court’s decision might be moot once the UK actually leaves the EU. Then, the UK would be free to impose whatever laws and rules it wished for. A troubling thought, considering that the UK’s tech industry is growing at incredible rates.

The entire document can be accessed on Scribd, courtesy of TechCrunch.

By Adam Pothitos

Adam has been keenly interested in the mobile and marketing industries for as long as he can remember. He believes that the mobile and digital evolutions have completely transformed our world and wants to be a close part of that ever-shifting landscape. Towards that end, he has written for a number of online publications on matters of the mobile market, the computer industry, and all kinds of technology. When he’s not dealing with technology, he’s always interested in some good discussions on psychology.

4 replies on “EU top court protests mass data retention”

It was reported that the United Kingdom passed a bill which would retain
user information from Internet Service Providers. However, the European
Union Court ruled that the aspect was not applicable for any country
within the EU.

The European Union Court opposed the bill passed by the United
Kingdom which refers to the amassing of user related data from internet
service providers, mentioning that it was not felicitous for countries
belonging to the EU.

MacOS from Apple features several free updates and is one of the
products which pays focus to the user’s interaction with the device with
the downside beings its pricing.

With the European Union’s Court of Justice against the Bill passed
by UK regarding retention of user data via its internet service
providers, it was regarded as a potential triumph for all those opposing
the move.

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