The Council adopted conclusions on the way forward with regard to the retention of electronic communication data for the purpose of fighting crime.
The Council noted that data retention is an essential tool for investigating serious crime efficiently, but one whose use should be guided by the need to protect fundamental rights and freedoms.
The Council tasked the Commission to gather further information and organise targeted consultations as part of a comprehensive study on possible solutions for retaining data, including the consideration of a future legislative initiative.
To fight crime effectively today, it is important that service providers retain certain data, besides those collected strictly for their business purposes, that can be disclosed under certain strict conditions for the purpose of fighting crime. However, data retention can infringe upon individual fundamental rights, in particular the rights to privacy and protection of personal data as interpreted by the European Court of Justice. In the cases Digital Rights v Ireland in 2014 and TELE2 in 2016, the ECJ prohibited the EU and its member states from laying down rules that would entail general and indiscriminate retention of data.
All discussion on this topic is therefore guided by the importance of providing effective tools to fight crime, on the one hand, and the need to respect fundamental rights, in particular the rights to privacy, protection of personal data, non-discrimination and presumption of innocence, on the other hand.