By Heini Järvinen

At the end of 2013, Belgium passed a law forcing communication providers to retain certain data about the activities of their customers. This means information about each and every Belgian citizen that uses electronic communications services. Providers of fixed or mobile telephony and Internet access have a legal duty to retain data (who calls whom, for how long, from which device, from where…) for a year.

This massive collection of personal data endangers a series of fundamental rights and freedoms: the right to privacy, the freedom of assembly and association, the freedom of movement, the freedom of speech, the professional secrecy and confidentiality of sources. It treats each one of us as a potential criminal, substitutes the presumption of innocence with the one of guilt and undermines the basic human rights and liberties that are the foundation of a democratic society.

The Liga voor Mensenrechten, the Ligue des droits de l’Homme and the Net Users’ Rights Protection Association (NURPA) have decided to complain before the Constitutional Court to obtain the cancellation of this law. The legal battle that lies ahead of us is a long one. As a first step, the parties will have to submit their arguments in a written form, and will then plead before the twelve judges of the Belgian Constitutional Court. Finally, the latter will deliberate. However, their decision should not be expected before 2015.

If the Constitutional Court finds the data retention law to be in violation of the Belgian Constitution, the legislator will have to re-examine the issue.

Informative and crowfunding campaign by Liga voor Mensenrechten and NURPA
http://stopdataretention.be

Loi portant modification des articles 2, 126 et 145 de la loi du 13 juin 2005 relative aux communications électroniques et de l’article 90decies du Code d’instruction criminelle
http://stopdataretention.be/files/dataretention-law_fr.pdf

Arrêté royal portant exécution de l’article 126 de la loi du 13 juin 2005 relative aux communications électroniques
http://stopdataretention.be/files/dataretention-decree_fr.pdf