[Reader-list] European Court invalidates Data Retention Directive (Privacy International)
patrice at xs4all.nl
Wed Apr 9 01:10:29 CDT 2014
Something for India('s SC) too?
European Court invalidates Data Retention Directive, says mass
surveillance of metadata interferes with right to privacy
The ruling today from the European Court of Justice, invalidating the
European Unions 2006 Data Retention Directive policy, was strong and
unequivocal: the right to privacy provides a fundamental barrier between
the individual and powerful institutions, and laws allowing for
indiscriminate, blanket retention on this scale are completely
As the Court states, it is not, and never was, proportionate to spy on the
entire population of Europe. The types of data retained under this
hastily-enacted Directive are incredibly revealing about our lives,
including our daily activities and whom we have relationships with. It is
right and overdue that this terrible directive was struck down.
What the Court said today is similar to arguments privacy advocates have
said for some time. The mass collection of metadata is an interference
with the right to privacy, and access to this data cannot be justified
under vague references to combating serious crimes or terrorism. If access
to this sensitive data is granted, such access must be subject to prior
review "carried out by a court or by an independent administrative body."
Perhaps most significantly, this ruling not only demolishes communications
data surveillance laws across Europe, but sets a precedent for the world.
The widespread and indiscriminate collection of information has been, and
always will be bad law, inconsistent with human rights and democratic
What the Snowden revelations have showed us over the past year is that the
international surveillance apparatus set up by intelligence agencies is in
direct conflict with human rights. If the Data Retention Directive fails
to meet the requirements of human rights law, then the mass surveillance
programs operated by the US and UK governments must equally be in conflict
with the right to privacy. This decision is a turning of the tide and
suggests that the British Governments position on the legitimacy of its
surveillance operations is losing favour.
As the court confirms, the right to privacy is undeniably important and
must be protected fiercely. As policymakers now look to realign
communications surveillance laws to protect human rights, we encourage
them to look to the International Principles on the Application of Human
Rights to Communications Surveillance, endorsed by over 400 civil society
groups, over 50 experts and academics, and many elected officials and even
Now is the time to get these 13 Principles into law. When bad law is
reversed, civil society and lawmakers have a unique opportunity to right
the wrongs, and we must push to enact a legal framework that upholds our
cherished right to privacy.
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