by Alessandra Silveira, Editor and Pedro Freitas, Member of CEDU
In the decision Digital Rights Ireland of 2014[i], the ECJ was called upon to assess the validity of the Directive 2006/24 (on the retention of data generated or processed in connection with the provision of publicly available electronic communications services or of public communications networks) in the light of Articles 7 (Respect for private and family life) and 8 (Protection of personal data) of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union (CFREU) and considered that the obligation imposed by the Directive 2006/24 on providers of electronic communications services constituted an interference with the aforementioned fundamental rights. [ii]
The issue at hand is that the directive concerned all those who used electronic communications services in Europe – even those whose conduct were not in any way linked with criminal activities. Furthermore, while seeking to fight against serious crime, the Directive did not provide for any differentiation, limitation or exception to the retention of data of persons whose communications are subject to professional secrecy. In addition to a general absence of limits, the Directive 2006/24 did not lay down any objective criterion to limit the access of the competent national authorities to the data and its subsequent use. Furthermore, the Directive did not require that the data in question should be kept within the territory of the Union, and thus a supervision by an independent body was not fully guaranteed.
While it is true that the fight against serious crime is of prime importance in ensuring public safety and that its effectiveness may depend on the use of modern investigative techniques, such objective, be that as it may, cannot in itself justify a retention measure such as the one established by Directive 2006/24 as necessary for those purposes[iii]. By adopting Directive 2006/24, the European Union legislature had exceeded the limits imposed by the principle of proportionality in the light of Articles 7, 8 and 52(1) of the CFREU, and for that reason the ECJ ruled the invalidity of the directive, without reservations as to the temporal effects of its decision (ex tunc).
However, following the judgment in the Digital Rights Ireland case, the reaction of the Member States was not consensual, which led to an unlawful differentiation of treatment between European citizens. The decision of the ECJ raised the problem of the effects of that invalidity in relation to the national provisions transposing the directive. According to data released by the Portuguese Public Prosecutor’s Office, ten of the EU Member States have declared invalid the national laws that transposed the data retention directive, either by parliamentary decision or through their constitutional courts. In other Member States, including Portugal, this was not the case because the substantial requirements of the ECJ’s decision were deemed satisfied by the national legislation that transposed it. [iv]
Continue reading “Implications of the declaration of invalidity of the Directive 2006/24 on the retention of personal data (metadata) in the EU Member States: an approach to the judgment Tele 2 of 21 December 2016”