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ECJ rules against mass data retention in Germany

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Berlin, Sep 20: The European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled Tuesday that data retention in Germany is not compatible with EU law.

The ECJ in Luxembourg said that internet and phone service providers may not store citizens' communications data without cause.

ECJ rules against mass data retention in Germany

Limited data retention is only permissible under certain strict conditions, including fighting a "severe threat to national security."

German Justice Minister Marco Buschmann hailed the decision on Twitter saying it was "a good day for civil rights!"

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He said it clears the way for the introduction of new regulations.

Buschmann favors what's being called a "quick-freeze" solution where data should stored when there is a specific reason to do so and on the basis of a court order.

Why the German regulations were controversial

Germany's Telecommunications Act required service providers to store their customers' telephone and internet data for four or ten weeks and to make it available, if necessary, to law enforcement authorities

But Deutsche Telekom and internet service provider SpaceNet AG challenged it, arguing it breached EU rules.

Germany's Federal Administrative Court subsequently sought the advice of the ECJ which said such data retention can only be allowed under very strict conditions.

"The Court of Justice confirms that EU law precludes the general and indiscriminate retention of traffic and location data, except in the case of a serious threat to national security," the judges said.

ECJ makes similar ruling in French case

On Tuesday the ECJ also ruled that a French law on mass data retention violates EU law.

"The general and indiscriminate retention of traffic data ... is not authorized, as a preventive measure, for the purpose of combating market abuse offences including insider dealing," the ECJ found.

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EU member states have repeatedly argued at the ECJ that investigators need access to communications data.

In 2020 however the Luxembourg-based court ruled that storing data about citizens' communications, even if not the actual content itself, is generally illegal in the bloc.

Source: DW

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