Data retention: ECJ strengthens citizens' rights

The European Court of Justice ruled on Tuesday that laws allowing for the blanket collection and retention of location and traffic data are in breach of EU law. Exceptions are only possible when it comes to combating serious crime and threats to national security, the court said. Commentators praise the ruling on the issue, which has been the subject of much controversay in many European countries for years.

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taz, die tageszeitung (DE) /

Court has found the right balance

The ECJ ceded on the right points, the taz says:

“The No from Luxembourg regarding telephone and SMS connection data will remain in place, just as it will for mobile phone location data. As a result, the German law will have to be considerably slimmed down. But by allowing the retention of IP addresses, the police get what they believe they need the most. Now they can no longer claim that the ECJ is to blame if they can barely investigate child pornography. At the same time IP addresses, which only consist of impersonal digits and are assigned temporarily, are also the least worthy of protection. What we're dealing with here is mere snapshots, not personal networks or moving images.”

Der Standard (AT) /

A vital signal amid Covid snooping

Der Standard hopes the tenor of the judgment will also be applied in other areas:

“The ruling comes at the right time. In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, the European Court of Justice is strengthening data protection. ... So far, the pandemic has opened the floodgates in matters of data protection, with massive encroachments on people's privacy. Smartphones have become electronic shackles for monitoring the sick, companies have been given access to health data, and many things that were unimaginable a few months ago - like having to leave your name and number when you visit a bar - are possible now. There's no question that measures for containing the pandemic are crucial. But data protection is also important. The two need not be in contradiction of each other.”