Today, the hearing takes place before the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in Luxembourg in joined Cases C-203/15 and C-698/15 place (Link to the calendar of the ECJ). In these procedures, the question of the conformity of national laws, forcing telecommunications providers to store traffic data, with EU law is at stake. In 2014, the ECJ ruled invalid the European Data Retention Directive (Ruling of 8th April 2014, C -293 / 12).
In the now negotiated procedures, the Court has to deal with national laws that impose obligations on providers to store traffic data.
In a Swedish preliminary ruling (Tele2 Sverige, C-203/15) the referring court asks whether
a general obligation to retain traffic data covering all persons, all means of electronic communication and all traffic data without any distinctions, limitations or exceptions for the purpose of combating crime
is compatible with Article 15(1) of Directive 2002/58/EC, taking account of Articles 7, 8 and 15(1) of the Charter of Fundamental Rights. The Swedish court furthermore wants to know if the retention may nevertheless be permitted where, inter alia all relevant data are to be retained for six months.
At the same time, the ECJ will assess a preliminary ruling from the UK (Davis and Others, C-698/15) which also deals with the question of the conformity of national regulations on data retention.
Today, “only” the hearing takes place. This means that the various parties can express their positions. The Court may ask questions in connection with the preliminary ruling. Sometimes, these questions already show a tendency for a subsequent judgment.
The request for a preliminary ruling from Sweden is particularly relevant for Germany, where recently a new data retention law has been adopted by the Parliament. In the reasoning of the new law, “Law establishing a storage requirement and a maximum retention period for traffic data” (pdf, German), the German legislature explicitly refers to the application of Art. 15 (1) of Directive 2002/58/EC and assumes that national rules on data retention must therefore be measured against the requirements of the Charter of Fundamental rights of the European Union.