HomeInsightsCouncil of the European Union adopts conclusions on data retention to fight crime


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The Council’s conclusions note that data stemming from telecommunication operators and service providers is very important in order for law enforcement, judicial authorities and other competent authorities to successfully investigate criminal activities, such as terrorism or cyber crime, in the digital age.

However, the Council also notes that in order to ensure that information necessary to conduct investigations effectively is available to the relevant authorities, data retained by telecommunications operators and service providers for business purposes may not be sufficient for those authorities’ purposes. Indeed, the Council says, such business purposes are no guarantee that data will be retained, and if data were retained, the period of retention time would not be predictable.

The Council has therefore invited the European Commission to:

  • gather information on the needs of Member States’ competent authorities to have data available that are strictly necessary to fight crime, including terrorism, effectively;
  • conduct targeted consultations with relevant stakeholders;
  • subsequently prepare a comprehensive study on possible solutions for retaining data, including possible legislation. The study should take into account the consultations, as well as national and EU case law and the outcomes of the common reflection process in the Council; and
  • report on the state of play of its work on data retention by the end of 2019.

The Council notes that the use of data retention and similar investigative measures to fight crime, including terrorism and cyber crime, should be guided by the protection of fundamental rights and freedoms as enshrined in the Charter and the principles of purpose limitation, necessity and proportionality. To access the Council’s conclusions in full, click here.