After EU court ruling, EU needs a data retention directive better suited to a digital age

Today’s EU court ruling declaring the Data Retention Directive invalid requires an urgent new proposal to be brought forward by the commission that tackles concerns about blanket surveillance whilst continuing to allow law enforcement to be effective in a digital age, Timothy Kirkhope MEP, European Conservatives and Reformists Group home affairs spokesman, said today.

The court has ruled that the directive’s uniform nature breaches principles of right to a private life and protection of personal data. It added that, “the fact that data are retained and subsequently used without the subscriber or registered user being informed is likely to generate in the persons concerned a feeling that their private lives are the subject of constant surveillance.”

Mr Kirkhope warned that the ruling must not be able to hamper law enforcement across the EU, and that the new commission should bring forward a proposal that ensures a balance between concerns about universal surveillance, and the need to protect people from major threats.

He said:

“This ruling is frustrating but there are understandable privacy concerns about indiscriminate collection and retention of people’s data.

“Criminals and terrorists are growing increasingly sophisticated, so law enforcement must have the tools necessary to keep up with them. That’s why we need a directive that balances both privacy concerns with the need to tackle a constant threat.

“The new European Commission must bring forward a proposal urgently that allows access to the data of criminal suspects, without their knowledge, but without a blanket approach that would enable anybody’s data to be accessed without due reason.

“We cannot afford for this issue to go unresolved for long. EU countries have national standards to fall back on but in order to ensure other data sharing agreements can progress we need a swift resolution to this question mark. The upcoming election period and temporary inactivity of the Commission and Parliament associated with it should not be used as an excuse for the Commission to drag their feet over urgent new proposals.”