Digital rights activists vow to fight Big Brother directive


11 Feb 2009

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A civil rights group has vowed to fight on, despite a decision by the European Court of Justice not to strike down a major data retention law that calls for the storage of internet movements, email, voice and text messages across the EU.

In 2006, Digital Rights Ireland began a constitutional challenge to the Irish and European data retention laws, a case that is currently before the High Court.

The case before the European Court of Justice was a separate action, and Digital Rights Ireland chairman TJ McIntyre said that the decision not to strike down a pan-European law relates only to the technical basis for the law.

“It does not deal with the violation of human rights by a law that requires states to track the movements, phone calls, text messages and internet use of every citizen, and to store that information for up to two years – without any warrant, approval from a judge or other adequate safeguard.

“In 2006, we started a separate constitutional challenge challenging data retention on fundamental rights grounds as surveillance of the entire population can never be reasonable or proportionate,” said McIntyre.

“Our case is before the High Court, which is currently considering our application to refer these human rights issues to the European Court of Justice. After today’s decision, our case is now all the more important and will continue.

“We are confident that the European Court of Justice will strike down the Directive when it comes to consider how it invades the right to privacy,” McIntyre said.

By John Kennedy