Less than a year ago, many thought data retention in Europe would finally be faced with incontrovertible evidence that it is not effective or proportionate. Now, sensing an opportunity to take advantage of a more favourable public relations landscape, some politicians seem to have the intention to bring EU data retention back again.
Data retention laws still exist in some EU Member States, pending evaluation of conformity with the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU. Additionally, there are also non-member countries in Europe where data retention is very much a live political debate. In Kosovo, the government is trying to introduce a very worrying law while in Switzerland the existing regulation is set to be further broadened.
A UK court vindicated Edward Snowden’s whistleblowing on Friday by ruling that the secrecy surrounding one of the programs he exposed was, in fact, illegal. The decision is more evidence that not only were the Snowden revelations necessary and justified, but are also slowly forcing changes in both US and UK, even as both governments fiercely resist.
In a stunning ruling, the Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT) – which oversees (and usually rubber stamps) Britain’s spy agencies – declared that the intelligence-sharing rules between the NSA and GCHQ (Britain’s NSA equivalent and partner-in-crime) governing their mass surveillance program violated UK human rights laws because they were kept secret for so long.
On 16 October 2017, Politico leaked the response from the Legal Services of the Council of the European Union (CLS) to the questions raised by six member states about the legality of the upload filter proposal in the Article 13 of the Copyright Directive proposal. As the censorship filter is about restricting fundamental rights, it is regrettable that the questions did not mention the rules under which restrictions can be imposed, namely Article 52.1 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. This means that key issues were not addressed in the CLS response.