Collecting phone data is only legal in a few cases ECJ says

European Court of Justice said retaining bulk data only valid in the most serious circumstances

The European Court of Justice has ruled that bulk phone and email data can only be retained if it relates to serious crimes and should not be collected otherwise.

The findings come after ex-backbench Tory David Davis, and Tom Watson, Labour's deputy leader brought a claim to the court, saying it was unjust for the GCHQ, or any other organisation claiming to need access for legal issues to collect such sensitive information in bulk.

However, Davis withdrew his complaint after he was appointed to the cabinet, evidently not wanting to upset his peers.

"Solely the fight against serious crime is an objective in the general interest that is capable of justifying a general obligation to retain data, whereas combating ordinary offences and the smooth conduct of proceedings other than criminal proceedings are not," The ECJ's advocate general Henrik Saugmandsgaard said.

Advertisement - Article continues below
Advertisement - Article continues below

This opinion brings the European Union's stance closer to the regulations set out in the UK's Investigatory Powers Bill, which could come into question when the UK exits the EU.

"This legal opinion shows the prime minister was wrong to pass legislation when she was home secretary that allows the state to access huge amounts of personal data without evidence of criminality or wrongdoing," Tom Watson, Labour's deputy leader said.

"Labour has already secured important concessions, but I hope the government she leads will now revisit it. The opinion makes it clear that information including browsing history and phone data should not be made available to the security services and other state bodies without independent authorisation. The security services have an important job to do, but judicial oversight is vital if we are to maintain the right balance between civil liberties and state power."

The European Court of Justice will come to a final decision about a course of action in the next few months.

Featured Resources

What you need to know about migrating to SAP S/4HANA

Factors to assess how and when to begin migration

Download now

Your enterprise cloud solutions guide

Infrastructure designed to meet your company's IT needs for next-generation cloud applications

Download now

Testing for compliance just became easier

How you can use technology to ensure compliance in your organisation

Download now

Best practices for implementing security awareness training

How to develop a security awareness programme that will actually change behaviour

Download now


Policy & legislation

Breaking up big tech 'will cause more problems', says EU

8 Nov 2019
cyber security

The EU calls for cyber security pact with post-Brexit UK

6 Nov 2019
Business strategy

Can the UK tech sector still attract investment post-Brexit?

19 Sep 2019
Business operations

IT Pro Panel: The truth about talent

1 Jul 2019

Most Popular

data governance

Brexit security talks under threat after UK accused of illegally copying Schengen data

10 Jan 2020
cyber security

If not passwords then what?

8 Jan 2020
web browser

What is HTTP error 503 and how do you fix it?

7 Jan 2020
Policy & legislation

GDPR and Brexit: How will one affect the other?

9 Jan 2020