Germany does not face EU action over proposed data retention laws, Commission confirms

Out-Law News | 17 Sep 2015 | 8:09 am | 1 min. read

The European Commission will not take legal action against Germany over its proposed new data retention laws, the Commission has confirmed.

In a statement, the Commission said that press reports which have suggested otherwise "are misleading", that it neither supports nor opposes "the introduction of national data retention laws" and "is not contemplating" taking Germany to court over its draft data retention proposals. 

"As the European Commission has repeatedly said since the European Court of Justice annulled the EU Data Retention Directive: the decision of whether or not to introduce national data retention laws is a national decision," the statement said. "The European Commission has no intention to go back on this statement or reopen old discussions." 

The Commission said it had been in touch with Germany about its draft plans for a new data retention law. However, that contact was only made in relation to Germany's legal obligation to notify the Commission about draft national legislative proposals that relate to "goods and information society services". 

"This is a preventive, technical mechanism to provide the Commission and other member states with the opportunity to react if need be," the Commission said. "The matter is currently being discussed by the German authorities and the Commission services, in a constructive manner." 

The German government has outlined plans for a new data retention law which would require telecoms companies to retain 'traffic data' relevant to communications and hand them over to Germany's law enforcement and security agencies. Earlier this summer, Germany's privacy watchdogs questioned whether the plans were constitutional

The privacy watchdogs said the German government had not outlined why the retention of the data is necessary. They also said that a ruling by the Court of Justice of the EU last year on previous EU data retention laws that applied had not been "fully taken into account". That CJEU judgment found that the EU's then Data Retention Directive disproportionately infringed on peoples' privacy rights. The Directive no longer applies as a result of the ruling.