Monthly commercial law update: Top 5 developments in April

Monthly commercial law update: Top 5 developments in April

Welcome to spring and the top five commercial developments in April.

Data protection: Data Retention Directive declared invalid

The decision in the Digital Rights Ireland and Seitlinger and Others case (Joined Cases C-293/12 and C-594-12) will have far-reaching implications for data retention and data protection in the EU and further afield.

In this case, the European Court of Justice declared that the Data Retention Directive (Directive 2006/24/EC) was invalid. The court’s declaration of invalidity takes effect from the date on which the directive entered into force (ie, on 3 May 2006).

The purpose of the Data Retention Directive was to harmonise member states’ provisions concerning the retention of certain data by telecommunications providers, among others. The directive stated that providers had to retain traffic and location data as well as related data necessary to identify the subscriber or user. However, it did not permit the retention of the content of the communication or of information consulted.

The court held that current collection practices, 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. Collecting such information interfered in a serious way with the fundamental rights to respect for private life and to the protection of personal data.

The Court also held that there were insufficient safeguards against the risk of abuse and against any unlawful access and use of data including outside of the EU. The retention of data should genuinely be for reasons such as the fight against serious crime or terrorism. It also found that the provisions relating to data retention periods were unlawful in that it did provide for a sophisticated enough mechanism to determine what time period should apply.

On the date the judgment was handed out, 8 April 2014, the EU Commissioner for Home Affairs, Celilia Malmström,

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