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Telecommunication data retention v. Constitution

Constitutional Tribunal should consider issuing a signal decision in a case involving the constitutional review of laws governing the storage of and access to telecommunication data, argues the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights in a letter to the Constitutional Tribunal.

Having decided to join the motions of the Prosecutor General and the Human Rights Defender, the Tribunal hears a case which involves, among other things, the constitutional review of telecommunication data retention laws. The regulations in question have been made part of Polish law as a result of the implementation of the EU directive known as the “Data Retention Directive”. However, the European Court of Justice has later declared the Directive incompatible with the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights on various grounds, which included a violation of the right to privacy protection.

“In the current legal situation, the right to privacy is being violated each and every day. Public authorities must therefore take action to remedy the current state of affairs”, notes Barbara Grabowska, a lawyer of the HFHR. “The ECJ has clearly ruled that Member States were obliged to ensure human rights compliance of the law in force”, adds Ms Grabowska.

In its letter to the Constitutional Tribunal, the Foundation indicates that on 23 April 2014 the Slovakian Constitutional Court suspended the local laws which implemented the Data Retention Directive. The Slovakian Court has not ruled on the merits of the case, but issued an interim injunction instead.

In early April, the Constitutional Tribunal was examining the complaints of the Human Rights Defender and the Prosecutor General submitted in a case involving the control of secret services and data retention. The Tribunal has since adjourned a hearing in this case sine die.

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