Swedish ISP urges European Commission to end 'illegal data retention'

The Swedish Post and Telecom Authority made an 180 degree turn, and started enforcing the data retention law again

Swedish law requiring network operators to retain communications metadata continues to breach European Union rules, according to Swedish ISP Bahnhof, which has asked the European Commission to intervene.

Together with the 5th of July Foundation, a Swedish organization that aims to protect online rights, Bahnhof sent an official complaint to the Commission. They want the Commission to initiate proceedings against the Swedish government "for blatantly ignoring" a judgment of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), they said in a news release.

The EU's Data Retention Directive had previously required telecommunications and Internet service providers to retain their customer's location and traffic metadata for investigatory purposes, but in May the CJEU invalidated the directive because it seriously interferes with fundamental privacy rights.

Bahnhof stopped retaining customer data and deleted all its records a few days after the ruling. It did so with the permission of the Swedish Post and Telecom Authority (PTS), which said at the time that ISPs could stop collecting data and delete records without consequence. After analyzing the verdict, the authority concluded that there would probably be "big problems" if it tried to enforce the Swedish data retention law that is still in place.

However, in mid-August the PTS ordered Bahnhof to start retaining data again, Bahnhof CEO Jon Karlung said. The PTS has made a 180-degree turn in policy by ordering Bahnhof -- and Tele2, which also stopped retaining data for a while -- to resume doing so.

According to a PTS spokesman, it was the government that ordered the PTS to start enforcing the Swedish data retention law again. "They appointed a commissioner to investigate if the Swedish national legislation could still be applied" despite the CJEU's ruling, he said. The commissioner came to the conclusion that the national legislation stands, and from that point on, the PTS has been enforcing the law again, he said.

"It is a crazy situation," said Karlung, who added that Sweden clearly violates European rights if it keeps ignoring the verdict. "Since we are a member state we have to comply with the European justice system. We cannot have laws that contradict what happens in the European Union," he said, adding that the Swedish government should be fined by the EU if it keeps enforcing the data retention law.

Bahnhof said it would also fight the retention law in Swedish courts, but urged the Commission to swiftly investigate the matter to speed things along. In the meantime, Bahnhof refuses to start retaining data again because it follows EU law, Karlung said.

By doing this, Bahnhof chose a different option to Tele2. The latter started retaining data again in response to an order from the PTS pending the outcome of a legal challenge of the order, the PTS spokesman said. So far, the authority has not threatened to fine Bahnhof for ignoring the order. "We will have to see what the next step against Bahnhof is," he said.

The Commission takes whatever action it deems appropriate in response to either a complaint or indications of infringements which it detects itself, according to a Commission website. "Non-compliance means failure by a Member State to fulfil its obligations under EU law. It may consist either of action or omission," it said.

Loek is Amsterdam Correspondent and covers online privacy, intellectual property, open-source and online payment issues for the IDG News Service. Follow him on Twitter at @loekessers or email tips and comments to loek_essers@idg.com

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags Bahnhofregulationeuropean commissionCivil lawsuitslegalgovernment

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Loek Essers

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?