Today, the European Court of Justice struck down the European Union’s 2006 Data Retention Directive. That policy required member states to force communications companies to store citizens' telecommunications data for six to 24 months. Under the directive, police and security agencies would be able to then go to a court to obtain authorized access to information such as IP addresses used and times of email, phone calls and text messages sent or received.
In striking down the Data Retention Directive, the ECJ said that laws requiring indiscriminate, blanket retention are unacceptable because information collection on the whole population is not proportional to government needs. This is a particularly salient ruling. Recent disclosures illustrate more fully how commercial data retention, whether voluntary or compelled (as it was under the Directive), enables mass surveillance by the U.S., U.K., and other governments around the world.