Advisor To EU’s Top Court Suggests German Bulk Data Retention Law Isn’t Legal

The battle between the appetites of European Union Member States' governments to retain their citizens' data -- for fuzzy, catch-all 'security' purposes -- and the region's top court, the CJEU, which continues to defend fundamental rights by reiterating that indiscriminate mass surveillance is incompatible with general principles of EU law (such as proportionality and respect for privacy) -- has led to another pointed legal critique of national law on bulk data retention. From a report: This time it's a German data retention law that's earned the slap-down -- via a CJEU referral which joins a couple of cases, involving ISPs SpaceNet and Telekom Deutschland which are challenging the obligation to store their customers' telecommunications traffic data. The court's judgement is still pending but an influential opinion put out today by an advisor to the CJEU takes the view that general and indiscriminate retention of traffic and location data can only be permitted exceptionally -- in relation to a threat to national security -- and nor can data be retained permanently. In a press release announcing the opinion of advocate general Manuel Campos Sanchez-Bordona, the court writes that the AG "considers that the answers to all the questions referred are already in the Court's case-law or can be inferred from them without difficulty"; going on to set out his view that the German law's "general and indiscriminate storage obligation" -- which covers "a very wide range of traffic and location data" -- cannot be reconciled with EU law by a time limit imposed on storage as data is being sucked up in bulk, not in a targeted fashion (i.e. for a specific national security purpose).

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