ECJ also overturns the last variant of data retention


The latest attempt to introduce data retention in Germany also violates European law. The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has now determined this after two German providers had sued.

In 2014, the court had already overturned the basis for data retention at European level that had been decided up until then. The CDU/SPD government then started a new attempt. SpaceNet and Deutsche Telekom filed a lawsuit against him back in 2016. The matter ultimately ended up with the Federal Administrative Court, which initiated a review by the ECJ in 2019.

This made it clear once again that storing the metadata of all telecommunications participants without cause is not permissible, even with the small changes compared to the first law. Anyone who is not guilty of anything and is not even suspected of having committed a criminal offense must be able to rely on the fact that profiles of their communication behavior are not being created on government instructions.

So far no storage

According to the judgement, there is only one exception to this rule: If the national security of a member state is threatened, the metadata can be stored – but only with examination and approval by a competent court and with a narrow time limit. Otherwise, meta data may only be recorded and evaluated if a specific person becomes the subject of an investigation.

The decision has no practical consequences. The providers weren’t interested in storing the huge amounts of data forever anyway. And the Federal Network Agency, as the competent authority, wanted to wait for the decision of the courts before beginning to enforce the law. Currently, the ECJ’s announcement should not even lead to anyone trying to get a slightly modified version of the law on the road again, since retention would not be enforceable in the current government coalition anyway.

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