The Federal Commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information

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Berlin, 20th september 2022

Press release 11/2022

The BfDI welcomes ECJ ruling on data retention

The BfDI, Professor Ulrich Kelber, welcomes the rulings of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) on German data retention: The ECJ has once again made it very clear that the groundless storage of traffic data and location data, as provided for in German law, is not compatible with European law.

es sind die Metallkörper von vielen Servern mit eingesteckten Kabeln abgebildet
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The preventive, general and indiscriminate storage of traffic data and location data represents a serious encroachment on fundamental rights. The BfDI said: My great wish is that, as of today, the debates about groundless data retention must finally come to an end. How many times are the relevant courts supposed to send a stop signal?

The ECJ has once again emphasised that data retention allows deep insights into the personality of each individual, including the creation of personal networks and profiles of individuals. This reinforces the importance of a free and open internet. 

There must be no such thing as comprehensive data retention without any reason. In the BfDI's view, it is not even necessary. Of course, freedom requires security, but effective law enforcement on the Internet is also possible without data retention. After all, there have long been effective alternatives in place, such as the "log-in trap" or the "quick freeze procedure" mentioned by the ECJ. In both cases, the aim is to collect relevant information for criminal prosecution only in the event of a concrete suspicion. 

The Court has now once again clearly defined the limits. It remains to be seen whether the legislator will make use of the narrow corridor set by the ECJ. The BfDI will critically accompany this process and is available for consultation at any time.