ECJ questions legality of UK phone and internet data surveillance

The court found that UK and other EU member states cannot use “national security” exemptions to override EU privacy law when harvesting people’s data from communications companies.

ECJ questions legality of UK phone and internet data surveillance
ECJ questions legality of UK phone and internet data surveillance

ECJ questions legality of UK phone and internet data surveillance

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) recently ruled that collection of communications traffic data from telecoms and internet companies was a “particularly serious” interference of privacy rights under European law. The court found that UK and other EU member states cannot use “national security” exemptions to override EU privacy law when harvesting people’s data from communications companies.

The decision is likely to raise questions over UK’s ability to secure an adequacy agreement with the EU to continue sharing data with European countries after Brexit. The court’s ruling followed a legal challenge by campaign group Privacy International over the legality of UK’s bulk communications data (BCD) collection regime.

Computerweekly.com quoted Caroline Wilson Palow, legal director of Privacy International as saying that European law applies any time that a national government tries to ask a telecommunications provider to process personal data for the state, including providing access to communications data, or retaining data, even in the context of national security.

She added that they think that this is a really big win for the rule of law because it means that now the fundamental privacy, data protection and freedom of expression protections under EU law are going to be applied. The decision would make it all the more compelling for UK to reform its surveillance laws.