Austrian court axes data retention law following EU high court ruling

Regulations to fight crime should be in line with human rights, Austria's Constitutional Court said

A court in Austria has ruled that the country's data retention law is unconstitutional as it violates fundamental European privacy rights.

The decision by the Constitutional Court of Austria comes in the wake of a recent ruling of the EU's top court that found EU laws requiring communications providers to retain metadata to be invalid.

Austria's data retention law violates article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights that covers the right to respect of private and family life, the Constitutional Court ruled Friday.

This means that the law will be officially invalidated once the verdict is published by the Austrian chancellor, which will probably happen within a week, court spokesman Christian Neuwirth said. "So you could say this is effective immediately," he added.

Austrian and other European telecommunications and Internet providers are required by the EU's Data Retention Directive to retain traffic and location data as well as related data necessary to identify the user. This is done in order to help law enforcement fight organized crime and terrorism.

However, the Constitutional Court of Austria and the High Court of Ireland doubted the validity of the directive and asked the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU) if it violated fundamental privacy rights. The CJEU ruled in April that the data retention directive is indeed illegal.

However, this does not mean that all data retention laws in European member states are automatically void. The CJEU's ruling is binding though for national courts who have to dispose of cases in accordance with its decision.

That is what happened Friday in Austria, Neuwirth said.

Regulations such as the data retention law could be used to fight serious crime, but only if they are in line with data protection and the convention on human rights, the Constitutional Court ruled.

New communication technologies provide new challenges for the fight against crime. However, new technical possibilities also lead to potential threats to people's privacy, and this threat must be countered in an adequate way, the court said.

Loek is Amsterdam Correspondent and covers online privacy, intellectual property, open-source and online payment issues for the IDG News Service. Follow him on Twitter at @loekessers or email tips and comments to loek_essers@idg.com

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags privacylegalintellectual propertyConstitutional Court of Austria

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Loek Essers

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Bang and Olufsen Beosound Stage - Dolby Atmos Soundbar

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Sony WF-1000XM3 Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

ASUS ROG, ACRONYM partner for Special Edition Zephyrus G14

Learn more >

Nakamichi Delta 100 3-Way Hi Fi Speaker System

Learn more >

Family Friendly

Philips Sonicare Diamond Clean 9000 Toothbrush

Learn more >

Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit for Nintendo Switch

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Teac 7 inch Swivel Screen Portable DVD Player

Learn more >

SunnyBunny Snowflakes 20 LED Solar Powered Fairy String

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Tom Sellers

MSI P65

This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang

MSI GT76

It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?