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Indiscriminate mass surveillance is incompatible with EU law

by on19 November 2021

Bloc’s highest court warns

EU member state hopes that they can create huge databases to spy on their citizens in the name of defence have received a kick in the nadgers by the bloc’s top court.

The region's top court, the CJEU has stated that indiscriminate mass surveillance is incompatible with general principles of EU law (such as proportionality and respect for privacy) and has kicked the spooks in the issue of bulk data retention.

A German data retention law involving ISPs SpaceNet and Telekom Deutschland which are challenging the obligation to store their customers' telecommunications traffic data was slapped down by CJEU.

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 the questions are already in the Court's case-law or can be inferred from them without difficulty".

His view was 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).


Last modified on 19 November 2021
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