The European Union’s Supreme Court has dealt another blow to governments seeking to monitor citizens through controversial espionage techniques.
The European Court of Justice – the European Union’s highest legal authority – ruled Tuesday that member states cannot collect collective data on citizens via mobile phone and the Internet.
In its ruling, the court stated that forcing Internet and telephone operators to implement “public and indiscriminate transportation or retention of traffic and location data” is against European Union law.
“However, in cases where a member state faces a serious national security threat that is proven to be real, present or anticipated, that member state may disavow its obligation to ensure the confidentiality of data related to electronic communications,” the court said. Even in these emergency scenarios, there are rules that must be adhered to. .
“This interference with basic rights must be accompanied by effective safeguards, and be reviewed by a court or an independent administrative authority,” the court said.
The verdict – which civil rights activists were impatiently awaiting – came in response to several lawsuits filed by Privacy International and La Quadrature du Net.
Jurists have argued that surveillance practices in the United Kingdom, France, and Belgium go beyond borders and violate basic human rights, and specifically objected to the UK Investigative Powers Act, the 2015 French Decree on Specialized Intelligence Services, and the Belgian law on the collection and retention of communications data that was put into effect. 2016 year.
The ruling comes after an advisor to the European Court of Justice argued that surveillance practices in the United Kingdom, France and Belgium violated European Union laws. The European Court of Justice ruling is the latest in a series of cases attempting to limit governments’ powers to monitor citizens.
The European Court of Justice ruled in July that US national security laws do not protect the privacy of European Union citizens.
The court restricted the ability of US companies to send European user data to the United States, after it concluded that European Union citizens do not have an effective way to challenge US government surveillance.
And US agencies – such as the National Security Agency – could theoretically ask Internet companies, such as Facebook and Google, to hand over data on a citizen of the European Union.