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The Grand Chamber of the Court of Justice of the European Union yesterday heard argument in a landmark challenge to Member States’ data retention and access laws.

The Grand Chamber of the Court of Justice of the European Union heard argument in a landmark challenge to Member States’ data retention and access laws. Following a highly unusual full day’s legal argument in which 10 Member State governments made oral submissions, the Advocate General indicated that his opinion would be delivered on 19 July 2016. The Court’s judgment will be delivered subsequently.
 
The case relates to Member States' laws that require telecoms companies to store data about individuals so that they can be accessed by intelligence and law enforcement agencies. These data include information about telephone calls made or received, messages and emails sent and received, the information tracking the movements of individuals, subscriber data and IP addresses. In 2014 the CJEU’s Digital Rights Ireland judgment ruled that the EU’s ‘data retention’ Directive 2006/24/EC, which required telecoms companies to store such data for up to 2 years, was contrary to Article 7 and 8 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights. This judgment gave rise to a considerable degree of uncertainty amongst Member States as to whether and if so how the Charter applies to Member State laws.
 
In the two joined cases, the Court of Justice has been asked to rule on the application of Articles 7 and 8 on Member States’ data retention and data access regimes.
 
Dinah Rose QC, Ben Jaffey and Iain Steele acted for the claimants Davis & Watson.
 
Tom Hickman acted for the Law Society of England and Wales (intervening).
 
Ravi Mehta was junior counsel for Open Rights Group and Privacy International (intervening).

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