Czech watchdog proposes EU data retention directive be looked into by Constitutional Court

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The watchdog organization Iuridicum Remedium is proposing that the European Directive for Data Retention be looked into by the Czech Constitutional Court to assess if it is in line with the Czech Constitution. The proposal, which has backing from 46 parliament deputies, aims to stop the mandatory storage of technical data by communication providers, implemented in 2006 on the grounds of the said EU directive. The watchdog’s Filip Pospíšil explains what data retention is exactly and how it could violate people’s right to privacy.

“Data retention generally means that operators of mobile phones and internet providers are obliged to collect and store data of users, so-called technical data, but that data in fact tells a lot about the contacts, behavior and social life of the user.”

Iuridicum Remedium has prepared a proposal to have the law on data retention looked into by the Constitutional Court. Can you tell me what kind of change in legislation you are hoping for?

“Basically we were very much inspired by a similar move of organizations of our kind in Germany, where just last week, the German constitutional court declared a clause that requires this data to be stored unconstitutional. And we hope for the same thing to happen here. We would like to push the ministries in charge to prepare new legislation that would protect personal data and limit access to the data, and also the amount of it being stored.”

You mentioned Germany. In comparison to other European countries, is the Czech law on data retention relatively liberal or rather conservative?

Filip Pospíšil
“It’s not so much a question of the law, because nations across Europe are implementing the European data retention directive. The important distinction is the way the laws are applied in practice. There are some European countries, such as Austria, that have not started implementing this European directive. And there are countries such as Romania and Bulgaria, where constitutional courts have already declared that this practice is unconstitutional. And then, there are some countries that collect lesser amounts of data, and some on the other hand that collect larger amounts of data related to communication. So the big difference is in the practice rather than national legislation.”