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The EU has quietly restarted its push towards mass data retention

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The EU is reportedly trying to find a way to work around a landmark court decision delivered four years ago, annulling the Data Retention Ruling, itself adopted in 2006.

If successful, the EU would in this way reinstate a policy that its Court of Justice in 2014 found to be in violation of the privacy of citizens across the bloc.

The court, EU’s top judicial authority, found that the Data Retention Ruling was undermining fundamental rights to privacy and protection of personal data, in what was basically a case of blatant overreach – and that this went far enough for the judges to declare the act to be invalid.

Meanwhile, the 2006 rule had been a reaction – possibly a knee-jerk one – to the deadly terrorist attacks in London and then in Madrid that year. The EU at the time required telecommunications companies to store personal data of their customers for up to two years.

And as the EU court found the rule to be invalid, whistleblower Edward Snowden also spoke against it, pointing out that this approach to intelligence gathering was simply ineffective against terrorism – while at the same time managing to seriously undermine the fundamental rights of EU citizens.

But ever since, the European Commission (EC) – EU’s executive branch – has been looking for ways to bring the rule back to life by implementing it in another form, Techdirt writes.

According to this, the workaround may be to move to legislate retention of subscriber data – as the 2014 court ruling only focused on traffic and location data.

The report draws this conclusion from an internal document drafted by the Council of the EU (effectively EU’s government) that has been leaked and then cited by several media outlets, including Austria’s public service broadcaster ORF.

The same leaked document also refers to the planned but now somewhat stalled push to pass EU’s new e-Privacy Regulation. However, Techdirt observed, it seems that if this regulation were to pass first, it would have to give governments a free hand when it comes to personal data collection – as otherwise, it might hinder the effort to see a new version of the Data Retention Ruling adopted.

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