The European Court of Justice (ECJ) declared the Data Retention Directive invalid yesterday, 8th April, 2014, in response to a case brought by Digital Rights Ireland.
In 2006, Digital Rights Ireland initiated Court proceedings against the Irish State. The case brought the legality of the country’s data-retention legislation into question. The current data-retention legislation requires phone companies and internet service providers to store data about customer locations, e-mails, phone calls and text messages for a period not less than 6, and up to a maximum of 24, months.
In 2012, the High Court in Ireland referred the Digital Rights Ireland case to the European Court of Justice and, in 2013, the advisory legal opinion of Pedro Cruz Villalón, Advocate General, was that the Directive should be overturned. The Advocate General stated that the Directive was unlawful and not compatible with the Charter of Fundamental Rights.
In line with the Advocate General’s advisory legal opinion of 2013, the ECJ yesterday announced that the Directive, which “entails a wide-ranging and particularly serious interference with the fundamental rights to respect for private life and to the protection of personal data”, was invalid.
Although the Directive itself has been found invalid, the national legislation brought in by individual E.U. countries to deliver it still stands. However, this ECJ judgment means that the Digital Rights Ireland case, which was initiated against the Irish State in 2006, can now proceed.
So, while it is unlikely that we will see an immediate change in the rules associated with the collection and storage of personal data by phone companies and ISP’s, the fact that the Digital Rights Ireland challenge has been allowed to proceed means that we should expect amendments to the legislation in the near future.