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ECJ declares EU data retention policy invalid

On 8th April the European Court of Justice (“ECJ”) ruled that an EU directive, requiring telecom operators to retain data for two years, is invalid.

The case arose after Digital Rights Ireland, an Irish human rights advocacy group, launched a court action in 2006 against the Irish State that questioned the legality of Irish data-retention legislation requiring phone companies and internet providers to gather data about customer locations, texts, calls and emails, and store that information for up to two years. 
The ECJ ruled that the EU directive interfered in a serious manner with fundamental rights to respect for private life and to the protection of personal data.

Following the ECJ’s judgment, Digital Rights Ireland’s case against the State’s legislation will now be allowed to proceed. 
The ruling has been welcomed by Ireland’s Data Protection Commissioner’s office.  Ultan O’Carroll, from the office, said that there was a ‘balance and proportionality to be stuck’ between rights and law enforcement which ‘I think the commissioner believed was not there before’

However, the ruling could be viewed as a blow to UK’s home secretary, Theresa May, whose plans included a data protection scheme which would collect and store data from UK citizens’ internet and phone use for up to 12 months for later examination.

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