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EU Privacy The Courts

European Court of Justice Strikes Down Data Retention Law 77

Posted by timothy
from the wish-the-u.s.-would-one-up-'em dept.
New submitter nachtkap (951646) writes with some good news, as reported by the BBC: "The EU's top court has declared 'invalid' an EU law requiring telecoms firms to store citizens' communications data for up to two years. The EU Data Retention Directive was adopted in 2006. The European Court of Justice says it violates two basic rights — respect for private life, and protection of personal data. Germany's supreme court did call on the ECJ to look into this issue as well."
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European Court of Justice Strikes Down Data Retention Law

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  • Can't wait (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    to see how my country find a way to work around that ruling so they can keep logging every TCP connection I make.

    • It's not difficult. How would you ever know? The "workaround" is just doing it without telling anybody. You will never be able to prove a thing.

      • The "workaround" is just doing it without telling anybody. You will never be able to prove a thing.

        Because, of course, European telecoms are staffed entirely by intelligence agents of unquestionable loyalty.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          Sure they are ... most likly though not european intelligence agents ;)

    • All they have to do is sell the data to private companies then buy it back later, or buy an option to have permanent access to it. ...The merger of state and corporate power.

    • "Not required to..." != "Prohibited from..."
  • Good for them. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by serviscope_minor (664417) on Tuesday April 08, 2014 @10:07AM (#46693591) Journal

    The EU does a lot wrong and it also does a lot right.

    The thing is when the EU does something wrong that governments don't like, they piss and moan and make a fuss. Of course, the various governments pretty much cackled with glee when the EU came up with the data retention law, because it appealed to their creepy, snoopy, power hungry side.

    But now the EU court has struck it down.

    The system seems to work.

    • The system seems to work.

      Yes, people might think that, but how can you verify your data is not being harvested?

      • Yes, people might think that, but how can you verify your data is not being harvested?

        You can't. But the first step is to make sure the laws are sane. Then worry about getting them enforced.

        • Well, you know the routine. You gotta elect somebody that will write sane law.

          • Well, here in Czech republic, the previous prime minister's party went from 2nd place with 20.22% of votes in 2010 (with tiny difference between 1st and 2nd place) to 5th place with 7.72% in 2013 early elections, barely making the election threshold of 5%. So yes, there's still hope at least for my country. It doesn't guarantee that the next guy in power will be sane, but at least it's nice to know that voters can actually kick the worst ones out really hard when they run out of patience.
      • Simple. Outlaw data retention, the way it used to be in the EU before the whole terrorist craze set in. Yes, it was actually ILLEGAL to retain data beyond what is absolutely the bare minimum necessary to do business (i.e. meter phone calls so you know what to charge) and tack some insane fines to it. Install a government position that has nothing better to do than follow up claims of misconduct. Then watch the telcos try to get at each other's throat by finding out how a competitor breaks that law, hoping t

      • by MtHuurne (602934)

        As far as I know, ISPs were forced to implement the data retention. For them, even if they aren't opposed to it on privacy grounds, it's additional infrastructure costs that they would rather get rid of.

        • by mk1004 (2488060)
          My first, cynical thought was that they did it because the businesses told them that doing so would reduce their profit margins.
    • The system seems to work.

      Even a broken clock etc etc

    • I believe that once the various governments also strike the laws down.

      Read the fine print. The EU did not disallow data retention. They only made it no longer mandatory. The various governments only lost their convenient "we have to, the evil, evil, EU forces us to" strawman. But since data retention is already in place pretty much everywhere, that straw man is no longer necessary.

      What is now necessary is someone asking when and how governments will not only backpedal but outright outlaw data retention agai

      • by Sique (173459)
        Read the fine print again: The E.U. considered the current data retention laws according to the directive to be incompatible with the human rights as laid down in the Treaty of Lisbon [wikipedia.org]. So this actually invalidates the data retention laws in all countries who adhered to the directive, e.g. all of them with the exemption of Ireland, Germany, where struck down before by the German Constitutional Court, and Austria, which never got the act together.
        • In other words, the council of ministers has to get together quickly to make the data retention directive compatible with human rights.

          You don't expect them to simply drop it because it's incompatible with something as negligible as human rights, do you?

          • by Anonymous Coward

            In other words, the council of ministers has to get together quickly to make the data retention directive compatible with human rights. You don't expect them to simply drop it because it's incompatible with something as negligible as human rights, do you?

            And the spokesbot for the UK said "fuck it, we'll just pass the law again with slightly different wording, keep doing what we've been doing, and if it takes 7 more years for the next ECJ court to strike it down, we'll just do it all over again...":

            From

        • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

          It's a little more complicated than that because the EU rules have to be transposed into each country's laws, although often nothing actually happens because the existing laws already meet the EU requirements. As such people in each country will have to bring human rights cases against their government's particular laws, unless the government takes the usually moral route of removing them without being forced to.

          Still, it's good to know we can now proceed with human rights cases against our governments.

  • by kheldan (1460303) on Tuesday April 08, 2014 @10:10AM (#46693633) Journal
    Is it just me, or is the EU government showing more respect for people's privacy than here in the U.S.?
    • Yes, and I'm actually planning on making the move (for real). I'm in the process of obtaining my birthright citizenship in one of the Shengen countries, after which I intend to move my family over there.

      No country is perfect, but America is being so badly run these days, I think Europe (Germany) is worth a try for me.

    • by famebait (450028)

      Nope, the EU 'government' created the damn thing in the first place. The EU *court* struck it down.

      OTOH, at least the whole scheme was out in the open, as opposed to the plain illegal surveillance in the US.

      OTTH, who knows how many of the national goverrments are doing that as well.
      There is also the neat trick (used by the UK among others) of turning a blind eye to, say, US surveillance of european citizens in return for access to the data. That way noone is offiically spying on their own citizens, but the

      • The reason for this is that the "council of ministers" that created it is about as undemocratic as it can possibly get in the EU, the entity that struck it down was one of the few remaining and working democratic parts of it.

        Draw your conclusions about the EU and its purpose, if you want.

    • by arth1 (260657)

      Is it just me, or is the EU government showing more respect for people's privacy than here in the U.S.?

      That has been the case for a very long time. In Europe, privacy is seen as an inalienable right, while in the US, it is a commodity you're allowed to sell for a mouse click.

    • by carton (105671)

      Don't let todays' positive news cycle make you forget that the "EU government" are also the ones who passed the mandatory data retention law, which is worse than anything going on above the table in the US.

      This shouldn't be reduced to an ad-hominem comparison of countries, but I admit I also thought, "Now it's harder for the US to pass a mandatory data retention law."

      • Call me the day the Patriot Act is repealed. At least we realise when a law is bad and remove it.

    • If you ask me, there's a very simple and understandable reason for this sensibility: Europe hosted its share of tyrannic oppressive regimes over the centuries, all of which used accumulated data to oppress their opponents. For once people seemed to have learned a thing from history.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Bahnhof, the swedish ISP announced that they would delete all stored data and stop all recording something like an hour after the announcment. It will be interesting to see what our government thinks about it, since it is still in swedish law. But since they had to pay the EU fines for having delayed the implementation of the directive I can't imagine they will be too upset.

    Also, to everyone saying this proves that the EU is great, it was the EU who forced this crap on us to begin with.

    • by mtempsch (524313)

      It will be interesting to see what our government thinks about it, since it is still in swedish law. But since they had to pay the EU fines for having delayed the implementation of the directive I can't imagine they will be too upset.

      Since it was invalid, will we be getting the fines, for nor timely implementing it, back?

      • by Arker (91948)
        Piraterna should make that an election issue.
    • by Sique (173459)
      I think it shows a deeper problem. Data retention was active already (PRISM is one of the programs that are known), but in the hand of the intelligence agencies. Police departements were envious of the capabilities of the agencies (and probably got some information considered useful from them) and rallied for their own data retention programs, but they had to be legal to be admissible in court.

      So in each country where the Minister of Interior affairs or a top police officer was always pressuring for a dat

  • by GodfatherofSoul (174979) on Tuesday April 08, 2014 @10:44AM (#46694015)

    Those European communists appear to be stealing our freedom.

    • Well, the price of freedom is vigilance. If you don't watch over it, it will be taken from you.

      Doesn't take those pesky evil Commies for that, your own government is plenty if you let it run amok unchecked.

  • The US currently has no law that requires companies to retain data, but they all pretty much do anyway. It's interesting because somehow requiring companies to retain data "stifles free speech" but the actual government collecting it in massive databases is apparently A-Okay!

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