Data Retention Directive deemed invalid on grounds of interference with the right to respect for private life
The recent judgment by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) of April 8, 2014, in joined cases C-293/12 and C-594/12, has declared Directive 2006/24/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 15 March 2006, on the retention of data generated or processed in connection with the provision of publicly available electronic communications services or of public communications networks, to be invalid.
As noted a few days ago in our legislation alert, in order to guarantee the availability of certain publicly available electronic communications services or networks, the directive forced publicly available telecommunications operators or public communications networks to store traffic and location data together with the necessary data to identify the user, at all times without revealing the content of the communication.
With this in mind, the High Court of Ireland and the Constitutional Court of Austria asked that the CJEU review the validity of the Directive in light of the fundamental rights to respect for private life and the protection of personal data.
According to the CJEU, the data that operators were obliged to store enabled information to be obtained on the private lives of the persons whose data had been retained (habits, places of residence, social relationships, etc.), thus interfering with their private life. In its judgment, the CJEU concluded that the Directive is invalid since, while the goals it pursues are in the general interest, it does not set in place sufficient measures and safeguards to avoid exceeding the limits of the principle of proportionality or abuses in access and use of the data by the national authorities when investigating serious crimes that justify such interference. Moreover, the Directive draws no distinction between categories of data or their use in relation to the retention period.
It remains to be seen how the annulment of this Directive will affect Law 25/2007, of October 18, 2007, on the retention of electronic communications data and public communications networks, which transposed the Directive into Spanish law, as well as the obligations of telecommunications operators in relation to the retention of data.
Garrigues Telecommunications & Media Department