Data protection case law Court of Justice

Data retention and access of national authorities

1 pending referral

Referral C-350/21 (Spetsializirana prokuratura, 4 Jun 2021)


7 preliminary rulings

of 20 Sep 2022, C-339/20 (VD)

European Union law must be interpreted as precluding a national court from restricting the temporal effects of a declaration of invalidity which it is required to make, under national law, with respect to provisions of national law which, first, require operators providing electronic communications services to retain generally and indiscriminately traffic data and, second, allow such data to be submitted to the competent financial authority, without prior authorisation from a court or independent administrative authority, owing to the incompatibility of those provisions with Article 15(1) of Directive 2002/58, as amended by Directive 2009/136, read in the light of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. The admissibility of evidence obtained pursuant to provisions of national law that are incompatible with EU law is, in accordance with the principle of procedural autonomy of the Member States, a matter for national law, subject to compliance, inter alia, with the principles of equivalence and effectiveness.

Judgment of 5 Apr 2022, C-140/20 (Commissioner of the Garda Síochána and Others)

Article 15(1) of Directive 2002/58/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 July 2002 concerning the processing of personal data and the protection of privacy in the electronic communications sector (Directive on privacy and electronic communications), as amended by Directive 2009/136/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 November 2009, read in the light of Articles 7, 8 and 11 and Article 52(1) of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, must be interpreted as precluding legislative measures which, as a preventive measure for the purposes of combating serious crime and preventing serious threats to public security, provide for the general and indiscriminate retention of traffic and location data. However, that Article 15(1), read in the light of Articles 7, 8, 11 and 52(1) of the Charter of Fundamental Rights, does not preclude legislative measures that provide, for the purposes of safeguarding national security, combating serious crime and preventing serious threats to public security, for

–   the targeted retention of traffic and location data which is limited, on the basis of objective and non-discriminatory factors, according to the categories of persons concerned or using a geographical criterion, for a period that is limited in time to what is strictly necessary, but which may be extended;

–   the general and indiscriminate retention of IP addresses assigned to the source of an internet connection for a period that is limited in time to what is strictly necessary;

–   the general and indiscriminate retention of data relating to the civil identity of users of electronic communications systems; and

–   recourse to an instruction requiring providers of electronic communications services, by means of a decision of the competent authority that is subject to effective judicial review, to undertake, for a specified period of time, the expedited retention of traffic and location data in the possession of those service providers,

provided that those measures ensure, by means of clear and precise rules, that the retention of data at issue is subject to compliance with the applicable substantive and procedural conditions and that the persons concerned have effective safeguards against the risks of abuse.

EU law must be interpreted as precluding a national court from limiting the temporal effects of a declaration of invalidity which it is bound to make, under national law, with respect to national legislation imposing on providers of electronic communications services the general and indiscriminate retention of traffic and location data, owing to the incompatibility of that legislation with Article 15(1) of Directive 2002/58, as amended by Directive 2009/136, read in the light of the Charter of Fundamental Rights. The admissibility of evidence obtained by means of such retention is, in accordance with the principle of procedural autonomy of the Member States, a matter for national law, subject to compliance, inter alia, with the principles of equivalence and effectiveness.

Judgment of 2 Oct 2018, C-207/16 (Ministerio Fiscal)

Article 15(1) of Directive 2002/58/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 July 2002 concerning the processing of personal data and the protection of privacy in the electronic communications sector (Directive on privacy and electronic communications), as amended by Directive 2009/136/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 November 2009, read in the light of Articles 7 and 8 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, must be interpreted as meaning that the access of public authorities to data for the purpose of identifying the owners of SIM cards activated with a stolen mobile telephone, such as the surnames, forenames and, if need be, addresses of the owners, entails interference with their fundamental rights, enshrined in those articles of the Charter of Fundamental Rights, which is not sufficiently serious to entail that access being limited, in the area of prevention, investigation, detection and prosecution of criminal offences, to the objective of fighting serious crime.

Judgment of 8 Apr 2014, C-293/12 (Digital Rights Ireland and Seitlinger and Others)

Directive 2006/24/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 15 March 2006 on the retention of data generated or processed in connection with the provision of publicly available electronic communications services or of public communications networks and amending Directive 2002/58/EC is invalid.

Judgment of 19 Apr 2012, C-461/10 (Bonnier Audio and Others)

Directive 2006/24/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 15 March 2006 on the retention of data generated or processed in connection with the provision of publicly available electronic communications services or of public communications networks and amending Directive 2002/58/EC must be interpreted as not precluding the application of national legislation based on Article 8 of Directive 2004/48/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 29 April 2004 on the enforcement of intellectual property rights which, in order to identify an internet subscriber or user, permits an internet service provider in civil proceedings to be ordered to give a copyright holder or its representative information on the subscriber to whom the internet service provider provided an IP address which was allegedly used in an infringement, since that legislation does not fall within the material scope of Directive 2006/24.It is irrelevant to the main proceedings that the Member State concerned has not yet transposed Directive 2006/24, despite the period for doing so having expired.Directives 2002/58/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 July 2002 concerning the processing of personal data and the protection of privacy in the electronic communications sector (Directive on privacy and electronic communications) and 2004/48 must be interpreted as not precluding national legislation such as that at issue in the main proceedings insofar as that legislation enables the national court seised of an application for an order for disclosure of personal data, made by a person who is entitled to act, to weigh the conflicting interests involved, on the basis of the facts of each case and taking due account of the requirements of the principle of proportionality.

Judgment of 19 Feb 2009, C-557/07 (LSG-Gesellschaft zur Wahrnehmung von Leistungsschutzrechten)

Community law – in particular, Article 8(3) of Directive 2004/48/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 29 April 2004 on the enforcement of intellectual property rights, read in conjunction with Article 15(1) of Directive 2002/58/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 July 2002 concerning the processing of personal data and the protection of privacy in the electronic communications sector (Directive on privacy and electronic communications) – does not preclude Member States from imposing an obligation to disclose to private third parties personal data relating to Internet traffic in order to enable them to bring civil proceedings for copyright infringements. Community law nevertheless requires Member States to ensure that, when transposing into national law Directive 2000/31/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 8 June 2000 on certain legal aspects of information society services, in particular electronic commerce, in the Internal Market (‘Directive on electronic commerce’), Directive 2001/29/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 May 2001 on the harmonisation of certain aspects of copyright and related rights in the information society, and Directives 2002/58 and 2004/48, they rely on an interpretation of those directives which allows a fair balance to be struck between the various fundamental rights involved. Moreover, when applying the measures transposing those directives, the authorities and courts of Member States must not only interpret their national law in a manner consistent with those directives but must also make sure that they do not rely on an interpretation of those directives which would conflict with those fundamental rights or with the other general principles of Community law, such as the principle of proportionality.

Judgment of 29 Jan 2008, C-275/06 (Promusicae)

Directive 2000/31/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 8 June 2000 on certain legal aspects of information society services, in particular electronic commerce, in the Internal Market (‘Directive on electronic commerce’), Directive 2001/29/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 May 2001 on the harmonisation of certain aspects of copyright and related rights in the information society, Directive 2004/48/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 29 April 2004 on the enforcement of intellectual property rights, and Directive 2002/58/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 July 2002 concerning the processing of personal data and the protection of privacy in the electronic communications sector (Directive on privacy and electronic communications) do not require the Member States to lay down, in a situation such as that in the main proceedings, an obligation to communicate personal data in order to ensure effective protection of copyright in the context of civil proceedings. However, Community law requires that, when transposing those directives, the Member States take care to rely on an interpretation of them which allows a fair balance to be struck between the various fundamental rights protected by the Community legal order. Further, when implementing the measures transposing those directives, the authorities and courts of the Member States must not only interpret their national law in a manner consistent with those directives but also make sure that they do not rely on an interpretation of them which would be in conflict with those fundamental rights or with the other general principles of Community law, such as the principle of proportionality.


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