ECJ rules against mass data retention

The European Court of Justice has ruled that mass data retention as practised in Sweden and the UK is in breach of EU law. Data retention can only be used for a specific region or group of people. The ruling applies for the security legislation of all EU member states - which prompts commentators to praise it as a very far-sighted decision.

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Der Standard (AT) /

How to combat terrorism more effectively

The ECJ's ruling that data retention does nothing to advance the fight against terrorism is spot on, Der Standard comments:

“We can only hope that now at last other means for combating terrorism will be deployed. For example, as things stand now it is relatively easy to do business with banks controlled by the so-called 'Islamic State' (IS) from Austria and other European states. Such ties should long since have been severed in order to dry up the Islamists' funding sources. It is also vital that we draw the right conclusions from Edward Snowden's revelations. It simply cannot be the task of intelligence services to spy on the politicians and state organs of friendly states. ... Such practices must come to an end as soon as possible. The money and manpower that this would free up could undoubtedly be better invested in funding a joint intelligence service strategy against the IS and other Islamist terror organisations.”

Süddeutsche Zeitung (DE) /

A preemptive move against autocrats

The Süddeutsche Zeitung sees a subtext in the ruling that was not reflected in the grounds given for the judgement:

“The ECJ is a court for all Europe; if this was just about Sweden, the UK or Germany it would perhaps take a less stringent view of an instrument for mass data retention. But as things stand the EU judges must take account of the fact that a rapid erosion of the rule of law is underway in certain states of Eastern Europe. In the hands of autocrats a colossal pool of data that elsewhere is used only for investigating major crimes could easily be misused as an infrastructure for mass surveillance. So the European judges have not only brought a degree of clarity to the endless conflict over data retention, they have also made a far-sighted decision for preserving the rule of law in Europe.”