Data protection: ECJ decision is a wake-up call for the Council
Following today's decision by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) to invalidate the 2006 Data Retention Directive, the S&D Group called on EU governments to adopt, without further delay, the new EU rules on data protection and law enforcement, as defined last March by the European Parliament.
According to the 2006 directive, EU countries had to store citizens' telecommunications data for 6-24 months. Moreover, police and security agencies were able to request access to details such as IP addresses and the times of every email, phone call and text message sent or received.
Today's ruling from the ECJ invalidates these provisions, right back to their entry into force.
S&D Group president Hannes Swoboda said:
"The European Court of Justice has done more for citizens' privacy today than the European Council – which has consistently blocked efficient data-protection legislation at European level – has done in years. It is high time for the Council to bring forward good legislation on data protection, as adopted by the European Parliament last month.
"Surveillance must always be the exception, not the rule. Mass collection of data, be it from governments, service providers or companies, cannot be accepted and police access to citizens' data must be targeted and authorised by a judge".
S&D vice-president Sylvie Guillaume said:
"This directive has a tremendous impact on fundamental rights.
"The European Parliament inquiry into the NSA spying scandal has clearly revealed how several countries had crossed the Rubicon into mass surveillance.
"More than ever, we need the data protection package to be adopted rapidly, with clear definitions on which authorities can access data and sufficient safeguards to ensure respect for privacy. We call on the Council to speed up its discussions and assume its responsibility on this crucial issue for European citizens."
Claude Moraes, the Parliament's lead investigator on the NSA scandal and S&D spokesperson on civil liberties, justice and home affairs, said:
"Today's ruling by the ECJ comes at an extremely timely moment given the ongoing debate, both in the US and in the EU, following Edward Snowden's revelations that many tech companies may have been actively or passively part of mass surveillance activities.
"The increase in the use of technology, including mobile devices, and the collection of data on user behavior by companies has offered police and intelligence agencies unique opportunities that did not exist before. Today's ruling aims at striking the correct balance between ensuring that intelligence agencies continue to do the vital job of protecting us against terrorist and cyber threats, and protecting EU citizens' data. It highlights that data retention must always remain proportional to the risks and in line with fundamental rights.
"The S&D Group has led the way on investigating the Edward Snowden revelations and has pushed for a European Digital Bill of Rights to protect EU citizens' fundamental rights and privacy. The ECJ ruling on data retention is another step towards achieving this aim and one which will be high on our political agenda in the next mandate of the European Parliament."