Telecom data retention

In 2014, the European Court of Justice declared the European Data Retention Directive invalid. According to the Court, the long-term recording of communication data of everyone, without concrete suspicion, violated the right to privacy. Following this, a broad coalition (including Privacy First) challenged the Dutch Telecom Data Retention Act in summary proceedings.

Wooden court gavel

In April 2014, the European Court of Justice ruled that the European Data Retention Directive was invalid due to violation of European privacy law. Former Dutch Justice Minister Opstelten, however, subsequently refused to invalidate the comparable Dutch Telecom Data Retention Act (Wbt). The minister wanted to wait for a change in the law first, and that could take years. Under the Wbt, since 2009 the communication data (telephone and Internet traffic) of everyone in the Netherlands had been stored for 12 and 6 months respectively, for the investigation and prosecution of criminal offenses. This made every citizen a potential suspect, so to speak. In summary proceedings, a broad coalition of organizations and companies led by Boekx Attorneys therefore demanded that this law be set aside. After all, according to the plaintiffs, the Dutch obligation to retain telecommunications (data retention) blatantly violated the right to privacy and confidential communications. In a unique ruling (laws are rarely set aside by judges, let alone in summary proceedings), the District Court of The Hague subsequently set aside the Wbt with immediate effect in March 2015. The Dutch government did not appeal. After this, the data in question were erased from all Dutch telecom providers. Incidentally, this never seems to have led to any problems in the context of criminal investigation and prosecution.