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General and arbitrary data retention violates the right to privacy

On October 6, 2020, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in Luxembourg ruled on the legality of the Belgian data retention law. This law was contested before the Belgian Constitutional Court by the Belgian Leagues for Human Rights and by the Order of the French-speaking and German-speaking Bars.

At the request of the Constitutional Court, the ECJ has now clearly stated that European law does not allow national Belgian law to impose a general and undifferentiated storage of communication data of citizens via telephone or internet on providers. The ECJ endorsed the position defended by the Ligue des Droits de l’Homme, assisted by lawyer Raf Jespers of Justis Lawyers Group and by lawyer Jan Fermon. A general and arbitrary data retention violates the right to privacy and is contrary to the European Directive of 2002 on the protection of privacy in the context of electronic communications.

The ECJ’s interpretation is binding on the Belgian Constitutional Court, which must again rule on the case in the coming months.

The ECJ judgment is a milestone in protecting the privacy of European citizens.

The judgement

The press release (only available in French)