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Court of Justice hearing concerning the validity of the EU’s 2006 Directive on data retention by communications providers


On Tuesday 9 July, the Grand Chamber of the Court of Justice heard oral arguments in two cases (Case C-293/12 Digital Rights Ireland and C-594/12 Seitlinger). These cases both raise issues as to the validity of the 2006 Data Retention Directive (Directive 2006/24/EC ). The appellants have challenged compatibility of the Directive with the principle of proportionality and with fundamental rights. The cases were referred by the Irish and Austrian Courts.

Under the Directive Member States are required to ensure that data relating to the location, timings and identities of callers and recipients (including internet protocol communications), but not the content of any communications, are retained by communications providers for a period of between six and twenty-four months, at the Member State's option),before they are destroyed. The relevant period in the United Kingdom is twelve months. The communications data retained may subsequently be used for the purposes of investigating serious crimes.

The EU Parliament, Council and Commission as well as number of Member States, including the United Kingdom, made submissions at the hearing arguing that the Directive was valid and that the challenges to it should be dismissed.

Sarah Lee appeared at the hearing for the United Kingdom government.

The Opinion of the Advocate General is due to be handed down on 7 November 2013.