Data retention and telecommunication providers: New EU Parliament meeting

virginie's picture
On April 11th, netCommons's legal team was at the European Parliament for a strategy meeting on "the Future of Data Retention and Targeted Criminal Investigations".

In line with the workshop netCommons organised at the EU Parliament in October, this new event delved into one issue identified last year in an open letter sent to EU institutions by EU Community Networks: the abrogation of blanket data retention obligations. As a reminder, the open letter advocated that:

Community networks strive to  safeguard human rights in communication networks, and in particular the  right to privacy and the confidentiality of communication. While  we welcome recent rulings by the Court of Justice of the European Union  holding that indiscriminate retention of metadata violates the Charter  of Fundamental Rights, we are concerned about several member states’  willingness to circumvent these rulings to protect capabilities for  indiscriminate surveillance. As EU lawmakers start/ARE discussing the  overhaul of the ePrivacy Directive, we call on them to oppose any  blanket data retention obligations and close existing loopholes in EU  law to ensure that only targeted and limited retention obligations can  be imposed on hosting and access providers.
This new strategy meeting welcomed NGOs defending digital rights, members of the European Parliament (Greens) and also academics. First, netCommons focused on the recent developments around data retention at the national level. The overall conclusion is clear: the legal framework of almost every member states is in breach of EU data retention law, and the rulings of the Court of Justice protecting fundamental rights are not applied.

There are several positive moves however:
  • In France, two community networks from the FFDN federation have pending cases before national courts (1).
  • In Germany, an administrative court set aside a national law, regarding it as non compliant with EU law (2).
But these isolated cases are not enough. We figured that a coordinated effort at the European level was needed. In this respect, netCommons suggested a common initiative launched with several European CNs. It is a bit too early to discuss the specifics. Suffices to say that, thanks to this meeting, we were able to reach out to more people to extend this project. We will be able to say more about this this summer.

So stay tuned...

(1): Their legal brief, in French, along with and all the updates  about this pending case are available here:
(2): The case law, in German, is available here: