[From top: The European Court of Justice in Kirchberg, Luxembourg and Digital
Rights Ireland logo]
In 2006, Digital Rights Ireland took a case against in the State, challenging the legality of the retention of data by phone companies and internet service providers.
DRI argued that laws which require ISPs and mobile phone companies to log details about a person’s location, text messages, emails, internet use and to store that information for up to two years is a breach of the right to privacy. This information didn’t include the content but rather the matter of who called who, when and for how long; where a person was at a given time (via a mobile), who emailed or texted and when.
In 2012, the High Court referred the case to the European Court of Justice for an opinion on the validity of the EU data-retention directive (2006/24/EC).
Today, the ECJ found the directive invalid, stating:
“…entails a wide-ranging and particularly serious interference with the fundamental rights to respect for private life and to the protection of personal data” and that it “entails an interference with the fundamental rights of practically the entire European population”.
“The fact that data are retained and subsequently used without the subscriber or registered user being informed is likely to generate in the persons concerned a feeling that their private lives are the subject of constant surveillance.”
In a statement TJ McIntyre, Chairman of DRI, said:
“This is the first assessment of mass surveillance by a supreme court since the Snowden revelations. The ECJ’s judgement finds that untargeted monitoring of the entire population is unacceptable in a democratic society.”
McGarr Solicitors, who represent Digital Rights Ireland, said:
“This case is a profound statement of European values by Europe’s top court. The court has rejected the principle of mass surveillance of EU citizens without suspicion as incompatible with the Charter of Fundamental Rights. It will be up to individual member states to now ensure their domestic law is in compliance with the ECJ’s judgment.”
Read full text of the judgement here
Related: Tomorrow’s ECJ judgement Q&A
Previously: Fight For Your Digital Rights