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Computable, 18 February 2015: 'Telecom providers drag national government to court'

Prosecutors: 'Telecoms Data Retention Act must be taken off the table'

Several organisations including ICT companies are filing summary proceedings against the State over the Telecommunications Retention Act. That case will be heard today, 18 February 2015, at the court in The Hague. According to the plaintiffs, the law requiring telecom and internet providers to retain meta-data on those communication data violates citizens' privacy.

The plaintiffs are Privacy First Foundation, the Dutch Association of Criminal Lawyers (NVSA), the Dutch Association of Journalists (NVJ), the Dutch Legal Committee for Human Rights (NJCM), internet provider BIT and telecom providers VOYS and SpeakUp. The proceedings are being conducted by Boekx Advocaten in Amsterdam.

Under the Telecommunications Retention Act, since 2009, the communication data (telephony and internet traffic) of everyone in the Netherlands has been stored for 12 months and six months, respectively, for the detection and prosecution of criminal offences. In the summary proceedings, the organisations and companies demand that this law be set aside on the grounds of violation of the right to privacy.

According to the plaintiffs, the Dutch telecommunications retention obligation (data retention) violates fundamental fundamental rights that protect private life, communications and personal data.

'Retention obligation unlawful'

Privacy First: 'That was also the verdict of both the European Court of Justice and the Dutch Council of State last year. Justice Minister Opstelten nevertheless refuses to disapply the Telecommunications Data Retention Act. The law will be maintained by the minister until an amendment comes into force, and that could take years.'

The privacy organisation explains: 'On 8 April 2014, the European Court of Justice declared the European Data Retention Directive invalid in its entirety and retroactively. The Dutch Telecommunications Data Retention Act is almost identical to this invalid directive. According to the Court, the long-term recording of communication data of everyone, without concrete suspicion, violates the fundamental right to privacy. The unlimited and unfocused collection of users' communications data in the context of so-called 'mass surveillance' is not allowed, according to the Court.

Criticism from CBP

At the request of Minister Opstelten, the Dutch Data Protection Authority (College Bescherming Persoonsgegevens, CBP) issued an opinion on the Dutch data retention obligation on 17 February 2014. Privacy First: 'In it, the CBP concludes that the necessity of the current retention obligation has never been demonstrated, that the retention obligation is disproportionate and contains insufficient privacy safeguards. The retention obligation is thus unlawful. We regard this as strong support for the summary proceedings in the District Court of The Hague.' (...)"

Source:, 18 February 2015.