Rights groups welcome Euro Court decision on Data Privacy

  • 08-04-2014
  • Categorized in: Privacy

Press release

For immediate release, Tuesday 8 April 2014

Two of Ireland’s leading human rights organisations, Digital Rights Ireland and the Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) have today (Tuesday 8 April 2014) welcomed a judgment by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) declaring the EU Data Retention Directive to be invalid.

The Court has found that data retention “entails a wide-ranging and particularly serious interference with the fundamental rights to respect for private life and to the protection of personal data” and that it “entails an interference with the fundamental rights of practically the entire European population”.

TJ McIntyre, Chairman of Digital Rights Ireland, said that “This is the first assessment of mass surveillance by a supreme court since the Snowden revelations. The CJEU’s judgement finds that untargeted monitoring of the entire population is unacceptable in a democratic society.”

McGarr Solicitors, who represent Digital Rights Ireland welcomed the decision: “This case is a profound statement of European values by Europe’s top court. The court has rejected the principle of mass surveillance of EU citizens without suspicion as incompatible with the Charter of Fundamental Rights. It will be up to individual member states to now ensure their domestic law is in compliance with the ECJ’s judgment.”

ICCL Director Mr Mark Kelly added: “the Luxembourg Court has found that the Data Retention Directive does not include sufficient safeguards to ensure effective protection of data against the risk of abuse and unlawful access and use. The ICCL trusts that this judgment will be very carefully noted by Mr Justice Nial Fennelly in the context of his judicial inquiry into the collection, retention, use and alleged abuse of data by An Garda Síochána and other agencies of the State”.

Today’s judgement follows December’s opinion of the European Court of Justice’s Advocate General, Pedro Cruz Villalón who recommended that the Directive be overturned.

Today’s decision will affect the lives of Europe’s half-billion citizens. It will set the tone for how privacy and data protection issues will be dealt with across the European Union in the post-Snowden era.

Though the Directive has now been struck down, the issue will remain live in all the countries that have passed domestic law to implement the data retention mass surveillance regime. Digital Rights Ireland’s challenge to the Irish data retention system will return to the High Court in Dublin for the next phase of litigation.

Notes for editors:

The judgment of the Court of Justice of the European Union, along with its summary of the decision is available HERE.

For more information please contact:

TJ McIntyre, Digital Rights Ireland
+353 87 2075919

Walter Jayawardene
Communications Manager
Irish Council for Civil Liberties
Tel. + 353 1 799 4503
Mob: +353 87 9981574   
E-mail  walter.jayawardene@iccl.ie

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