No more mass data collection through smartphones and internet connections of users. The European Union’s Court of Justice (ECJ) has ruled against those states that demanded to be able to ask telecom operators for a “generalized and undifferentiated” collection of their users’ connections.

Such collection can only be done in case of “a serious threat to national security”, and will have to be approved by a judge or “an independent administrative authority”. The European Union thus ratifies the 2016 ruling in the “Tele2” case, which also referred to this massive data collection.

The ruling came after demands from organizations such as Privacy International and La Quadrature du Net. Both organizations exposed how mass surveillance practices were going too far in countries like the United Kingdom, France and Belgium and violating the fundamental rights of citizens.

The United Kingdom has its Investigatory Powers Act, while France passed a decree to that effect in 2015 and Belgium also has such an act passed in 2016. With this ruling the European Union makes it clear that the governments of the member countries will not be able to ask the operators for such data except in exceptional cases.

The European Union had already restricted months ago how companies in the United States can send data from European users to the United States. EU residents were found to have few resources to fight such data collection, and it was determined that U.S. national security laws do not cover the privacy of European Union citizens.


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