EU Commission refers Germany to ECJ over data retention News
EU Commission refers Germany to ECJ over data retention
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[JURIST] The European Commission [official website] on Thursday referred [press release] Germany to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) [official website] for not complying with the EU Data Retention Directive [text, PDF]. The Commission is asking the court to impose fines on Germany for breach of EU law in the amount of 315,036.54 euros (USD $390,771.32). In 2010, the German Constitutional Court [official website, in German] annulled [JURIST report] certain provisions of the Telecommunication Surveillance Law that would have required telecommunications providers to store information on telephone calls, e-mails and Internet use for six months for use in possible terrorism investigations. The court ruled that the law would unreasonably interfere with individuals’ privacy rights and lacked the control to ensure that information obtained would be used securely and properly. Despite the ruling, Germany did not implement any new legislation placing the country into compliance with the directive. In 2011, the Commission formally requested Germany ensure full compliance with the EU retention law within two months. However, because Germany did not demonstrat that it is engaging in any effort to comply, the Commission decided to take Thursday’s measure. It also proposed that fines will be accrued each day after the court ruling until Germany enacts a legislation that would fulfill the directive. With Thursday’s decision, the Commission ceased its proceedings against Austria which notified that it will implement measures that will lead the country to comply with the directive. The proceedings against Sweden were also partially withdrawn.

Earlier this year, the Romanian Parliament adopted [EDRI news report] the data retention law out of fear that the EU Commission would impose sanction on the country despite the fact that the country’s senate rejected the draft law in 2011 and the Romanian Constitutional Court annulled parts of the law based on constitutionality in 2009. Since its approval [JURIST report] in 2006, the data retention law has been criticized by numerous countries. In March 2011 the Czech Republic’s Constitutional Court [official website, in Czech] overturned [JURIST report] parts of the law reasoning that it is unconstitutional. In February 2009, the ECJ dismissed [JURIST report] a challenge to the data retention law. The court only addressed the issue of whether the law was valid in light of the ECT’s trade provision and found that the law was valid because it standardized costs associated with retaining the data across the EU.