On 20 December 2017, EDRi member Iuridicum Remedium (IuRe) filed a request with the Constitutional Court of the Czech Republic to revoke the Czech data retention related legislation.
The filing of the request was achieved in close cooperation with the Czech Pirate Party, whose 22 deputies were for the first time elected to the Chamber of Deputies of the Czech Parliament in October 2017. Apart from the Czech Pirate Party, the proposal also won the support of Members of the Parliament across five other parties represented in the Chamber of Deputies. Altogether, 58 signatures were gathered.
The proposal was prepared also thanks to means granted by the Digital Rights Fund. It builds on a similar successful proposal filed by IuRe with the Constitutional Court of the Czech Republic in 2011. In 2012, a new data retention system was adopted that implemented the EU Data Retention Directive that was in force at that time. The recent proposal aims at revoking this new law.
The proposal challenges, in particular, the Electronic Communication Act, the Police Act and the Criminal Procedure Act as well as the implementing legislation which defines the range of data to be kept. Currently, operational and localisation data on electronic communications are stored for six months. Apart from the police and other law enforcement bodies, intelligence agencies, as well as the Czech National Bank, may use the data. According to the Czech Telecommunication Office, for example, mobile phone data were requested in over 470 000 cases in 2016 alone.
The complaint to the court considers the principle of general and indiscriminate data collection a fundamental problem. It relies on two key decisions made by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) – in cases Digital Rights Ireland and Watson/Tele 2. In both cases, this measure was rejected. The proposal also explains that Czech and German statistical data demonstrates that the absense of data retention did not affect the level of criminality nor the number of criminal cases solved. The proposal also suggests revoking of selected sections of the Police Act that allow data to be requested without court permission. Furthermore, it suggests revocation of selected parts of the Code of Criminal Procedure, which do not sufficiently limit the possibility of requiring data related to serious crimes only.
Based on IuRe’s experiences from 2011, the decision of the Constitutional Court of the Czech Republic can be expected in approximately one year time.
IuRe and Pirate party send complaint on general surveillance of citizens to the Constitutional Court (only in Czech, 20. 12. 2017)
Czech Republic: Data retention – almost back in business (01.08.2012)
Czech Constitutional Court rejects data retention legislation (06.04.2011)
Czech Parliament – close in implementing data retention directive (04.06.2008)
European fund for digital rights launched (08.02.2017)
(Contribution by Jan Vobořil, EDRi member Iuridicum Remedium, Czech Republic)