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European Data Retention Rule Could Violate Fundamental EU Law 61

An anonymous reader writes in with a story about the Constitutional Court of Austria objecting to the EU's data retention law. "The European Union's data retention law could breach fundamental E.U. law because its requirements result in an invasion of citizens' privacy, according to the Constitutional Court of Austria, which has asked the European Court of Justice (ECJ) to determine the directive's validity. The primary problem with the data retention law is that it almost exclusively affects people in whom government or law enforcement have no prior interest. But authorities use the data for investigations and are informed about people's personal lives, the court said, and there is a risk that the data can be abused. 'We doubt that the E.U. Data Retention Directive is really compatible with the rights that are guaranteed by the E.U. Charter of Fundamental Rights,' Gerhart Holzinger, president of the Constitutional Court of Austria said in a statement."
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European Data Retention Rule Could Violate Fundamental EU Law

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  • by lordholm ( 649770 ) on Thursday December 20, 2012 @06:18AM (#42345969) Homepage

    Well, if this is found to break the fundamental charter, which is part of the treaties, it is not that easy to lobby for it to change. That would require a massive effort which would not be very practical.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 20, 2012 @06:22AM (#42345981)

    That case is far more complicated. The only collect the data for the religious communities that want their church tax collected by the government. And what people need to specify is which church people belong to, not what they believe.
    A lot of people even of those still going to church will not specify their religion because they don't want to pay the church tax (in theory that also means they can't get married in church etc. but usually you can just join the church again for a little while if you really want that).
    And you forgot that you're also supposed to report that information to your bank, since they too are involved in taxation nowadays.
    So to summarize:
    1) They do not and never did collect info on one's religion, but only church membership
    2) It is only done for some churches (which actually is a part of another lawsuit, more churches want the government to collect money for them).
    3) All of the churches on that list are on it because they want to be
    4) To my knowledge there is no legal problem with you not specifying this to the government etc. as long as you can reach a different agreement with your church (you likely won't be able to, but that's not the government's fault).
    Which all makes this not really a privacy issue, since the only case in which you have to specify anything is if you _choose_ to be part of a church that forces you to do it.

  • by lordholm ( 649770 ) on Thursday December 20, 2012 @06:31AM (#42346007) Homepage

    The governments are represented in the Council, they are the assholes that pushed this through in the first place, the leading culprits where the British and the Swedish (previous) government under lead of the Swedish minister of justice Thomas Bodström. The Parliament did approve of it, but only after the Council said that if you don't approve, we will treat it as a matter of "criminal and justice cooperation", an area where the Parliament had no co-legeslative rights with the Council before the Lisbon treaty went into effect. Some MEPs where not happy though, Alexander Alvaro had his name stricken from the EP report on the issue.

    The Parliament approving it, did in the end ensure that they could at least water it down a little bit with amendments, even though I am uncertain as to this was a good thing in the end. The EP keeping their hands clean of the crap could have resulted in a real debate of the Council's behaviour and as to how the governments of the member states could be controlled in the EU setting.

    In any case, it is not the Austrian government that is fighting the directive (they are after all part of the body that approved it in the first place), it is the Austrian constitutional court and the EU court, and it is about time the EU court seriously evaluate the legality and treaty compatibility of the directive!

  • by lordholm ( 649770 ) on Thursday December 20, 2012 @07:15AM (#42346135) Homepage

    The EU is not just the institutions, it is an idea as well. Governments do indeed blame the Union for things they have been along negotiating in the council, this being quite unfair in many cases.

    You complain that the commission is not elected, well firstly, strictly speaking, neither is any government of any member state in the Union. The main problem has been that the commission has not actually represented the parliamentary election results. Will you be happy to know that from the next elections (in 2014), the commission will be appointed based on the EP election results? This is actually a result of the Lisbon treaty.

    Further, the commission are not breaking any local laws they prime mandate is to guarantee that the treaties are upheld by the member states. The member states have ratified the treaties, and this means that the treaties are law in the member states. Typically the treaties take president over every law in the member state except for their constitutions, which in turn means that any law that is incompatible with the treaties is an illegal law. Remember, membership in the Union means that your country has ratified the treaty and that the treaty (and accompanying directives) is the law. The commission is therefore strictly say, when they point out errors in member states laws, telling the member states that they do not follow their own laws.

    The EU does indeed employ around 40k civil servants, but you should compare this to a medium sized city in Europe. These cities will by themselves often have more bureaucrats on their payroll than the entire Union.

    You claim that MEPs are not present most of the time, such claim requires proof, and to be frank a comparison with attendance records for the member states. If you wish to look at different MEPs, research has shown that eurosceptic MEPs produce far fewer amendments, documents and have lower attendance records than main stream or euro centric MEPs. The point of this is that the "lazy MEPs" are in fact, predominately those with eurosceptic tendencies.

    The EU does also indeed want more money. But, on the other hand, since the Lisbon treaty, the EU has not received any more money, despite having (based on the treaties negotiated by the member state governments) to set up the european foreign service (including embassies all over the world); and despite having to expand certain areas such as the ECB being given more work to do with the latest treaty. There is only so much you can do in order to optimising the current funds with respect to the job the Union has been given by the member states.

Q: How many IBM CPU's does it take to execute a job? A: Four; three to hold it down, and one to rip its head off.