Germany and Romania in EU tussle over data retention

Germany and Romania face a battle with the European Union over data retention directives, which their national laws deem to be unconstitutional.

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Germany and Romania face a battle with the European Union over data retention directives, which their national laws deem to be unconstitutional.

The European Union's chief regulator, the European Commission, has ordered the two countries to take action to ensure compliance with EU regulations. However, rulings in their respective national Constitutional Courts blocked laws enforcing the Data Retention Directive.

This directive requires telecom companies to retain data identifying the user, recipient, date, type, location of the equipment, and time and duration of all communications. This applies to email as well as phone calls and text messages. The information must be available to be handed over to national police on a case-by-case basis. In 2010, the average European had his traffic and location data logged in a telecom database once every six minutes, according to European Digital Rights organisation, EDRi.

Despite German and Romanian courts' judgements that certain aspects of the implementation of the directive were unconstitutional, they did not rule that the Data Retention Directive as such was unconstitutional. And following those court decisions in March 2010 in Germany and October 2009 in Romania, local ministers and law-makers have been attempting to find a way to transpose the directive into national law. However it appears the Commission's patience has run out.

"Germany and Romania's ongoing delay in transposing the directive into national law is likely to have a negative effect on the internal market for electronic communications and on the ability of police and justice authorities to detect, investigate and prosecute serious crime," the Commission said last week.

The Commission has given Germany and Romania two months to come up with ways to transpose the directive.

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