eco on ECJ Rulings: German Federal Government Must Now Finally Repeal German Law on Blanket Data Retention

eco – Association of the Internet Industry welcomes the fact that the European Court of Justice (ECJ) has remained true to its previous stance on data retention and has delivered a ruling consistent with this. Data retention is only possible, if at all, in very limited exceptional cases – involving reasons which are very specific and which are limited in terms of location, time, and space.

Oliver Süme, eco Chair of the Board, has the following to say:

“The ECJ rulings reinforce fundamental rights in Europe and serve as a clear wake-up call to national legislators in the EU Member States, who should now critically review their existing regulations. Derogations raise the question of whether there is really any possibility of data retention that is compatible with national and European law. In any case, the German form of blanket data retention is not. On the basis of today’s ECJ rulings, we can assume that the Federal Administrative Court will now be able to decide promptly on the German law on blanket data retention, which does not conform with national and European law. The legislator is called upon to repeal the German law, thereby creating legal certainty for all parties involved.

“Especially in the current Corona crisis, building confidence in digitalisation in order to enable unencumbered professional and private communication is imperative. Nationwide digital surveillance would achieve exactly the opposite in this respect.”

Even before the judgement, the eco Association had warned of the consequences of nationwide blanket data retention and expressed its hope for a decision in favour of fundamental rights in Europe.

On the background: The ECJ today ruled on preliminary procedures from France (C-511/18 and C-512, Le Quadratur de Net) and Belgium (C-520/18). The same ruling was delivered on the UK case (C-623/17), which had in the meantime become a separate case. The subject was the French and Belgian regulations on the general and indiscriminate retention of traffic data; in the UK, it concerned mass data retention for the MI5 Secret Service. The eco Association’s assessment speculated that the national courts which had submitted the cases were likely to find the respective data retention regulations incompatible with EU law.

eco – Association of the Internet Industry has been actively campaigning against blanket data retention for almost 15 years. Since June 2017, together with its association member SpaceNet, eco has managed to ensure that German blanket data retention regulations have not been applied, as they are clearly not compatible with EU law (including the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights). 

Technical background to blanket data protection in Germany is available in the Fact Sheet: What is Traffic Data?



Oliver Süme