The European Court Of Justice has declared the data retention directive, which requires Irish mobile operators to log details about users’ locations, emails, text messages and internet use, to be invalid.
The court said that the directive “interferes in a particularly serious manner with the fundamental rights to respect for private life and to the protection of personal data”.
The court ruled this morning following a challenge to the directive by Ireland’s Digital Rights organisation, which argued that the directive was a breach of the right to privacy under the European Convention on Human Rights and the Charter of Fundamental Rights.
“The Court finds that the directive does not provide for sufficient safeguards to ensure effective protection of the data against the risk of abuse and against any unlawful access and use of the data,” said the judgement.
“Those data, taken as a whole, may provide very precise information on the private lives of the persons whose data are retained, such as the habits of everyday life, permanent or temporary places of residence, daily or other movements, activities carried out, social relationships and the social environments frequented.”
“The Court takes the view that, by requiring the retention of those data and by allowing the competent national authorities to access those data, the directive interferes in a particularly serious manner with the fundamental rights to respect for private life and to the protection of personal data.”
“Furthermore, 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.”
“The Court is of the opinion that, by adopting the Data Retention Directive, the EU legislature has exceeded the limits imposed by compliance with the principle of proportionality.”
The judgement is a victory for Digital Rights Ireland, which began its case in 2006.