EU top court slams Germany over citizens’ data collection — Analysis

An adviser to the EU’s top court has claimed that citizens’ information in Germany is being illegally harvested, after telecom companies challenged bulk data collection.

A Court of Justice of the European Union advisor (CJEU), criticized Thursday’s German data retention legislation, saying that it is not allowed to retain traffic or location data in general or indiscriminately except when there is a risk to national security.

According to the adviser, bulk collection of data generates a ‘serious risk’ of leaks or improper access. It also entails a ‘serious interference’ with citizens’ fundamental rights to privacy and the protection of personal data.

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This comes after two companies, SpaceNet and Telekom Deutschland, challenged the obligation to store their customers’ telecommunications traffic data in 2016. Cologne Administrative Court declared that two companies are not required to store data, as this would violate Union law. Germany appealed to Cologne’s Administrative Court. They asked the CJEU for clarification on the validity of the retention obligation.

CJEU often said that the EU’s principles do not permit mass surveillance indiscriminately. A similar case was presented to it over a year back. It involved legal challenges regarding national bulk data collection in accordance with French and UK laws. The court ruled then that limited data collection was allowed and only temporary retention was permitted. France seeks to bypass the CJEU on data retention and has asked the country’s highest administrative court (the Council of State) not to follow the EU ruling. France has been waiting to see the outcome of the Council of State’s procedure. “assessing to what extent”It is important to amend the national law. 

Recent EU court efforts to limit surveillance powers have been thwarted by leaked documents from June 2021. These papers show that national governments in the Netherlands, France and Spain are pushing for a pan-EU data retention legislation. According to them, data retention is vital for protecting public security and effective criminal investigation.

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