Wall Street Journal blog (USA), 12 March 2015: 'Dutch Court Strikes Down Country’s Data Retention Law'

Thursday, 26 March 2015

"A Dutch court Wednesday handed a victory to privacy advocates by striking down a data-retention law that gives the government easy access to telecommunication data.

The District court of The Hague said the law, which requires telecom providers to collect and store data for as long as 12 months, violates citizens' right to privacy and the right to protection of personal data. "The judge finds that this violation is not limited to what is strictly necessary," it said.

The ruling, which can still be appealed, is a blow to the Dutch government, which said the law was important to fight terrorism and organized crime. But it is a victory for privacy advocates, journalists and criminal lawyers in the Netherlands who argued that the law was unconstitutional because data are kept regardless of whether citizens are a suspect or not.

A spokesman for the Dutch ministry of Security and Justice wasn't immediately available to comment on the ruling.

The court's decision is effective immediately, which means that telecommunication companies are no longer obligated to store and collect data.

Most of the big providers weren't immediately available for comment, with some saying their legal experts need time to assess the implications.

"There are multiple layers in this ruling. We need to know how we should interpret it," a Tele2 spokesman said.

The lawsuit was the latest in a decade of legal challenges to data-retention across Europe. First adopted under an European Union directive dating to 2006, such rules generally require telecom providers to collect and store data about their users' mobile phone traffic and location for as long as two years.

But in several countries, including Germany, data-retention laws have since been tossed out on privacy grounds. And last spring, the European Union Court of Justice, the bloc's highest court, struck down the underlying directive requiring countries to implement the rules in the first place, saying it didn't have sufficient safeguards for individual's right to privacy.

In the Netherlands, where a data-retention law was enacted in 2009, the Dutch government has shown reluctance to scrap the law for security reasons. (...)"

Source: http://blogs.wsj.com/digits/2015/03/11/dutch-court-strikes-down-countrys-data-retention-law/, 12 March 2015.

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