In a verdict today, the Czech Constitutional Court killed the Czech implementation of the detested Data Retention Directive. Ubiquitous surveillance of every human being is not compatible with fundamental rights. That brings the number of countries to arrive at that conclusion to five.
The verdict (Google Translate) refers heavily to paragraphs in Czech law, but the overall content of the verdict is crystal clear: it is in violation of fundamental rights with regards to privacy, it does not meet basic requirements for reducing such fundamental rights, and it is not proportional to register everybody’s communications just because that data may come in handy in later criminal investigations.
The Data Retention Directive is a European-level directive which requires all its member states to register every phone call, email and SMS message done between people: when it took place, from where, when, and for how long.
To be honest and precise, this only killed the Czech implementation of the Data Retention Directive, but it was still gutted to a degree which makes it impossible to re-enact, from what little I can tell. This comes at the tail of a long string of other countries who have done the same: Germany, Romania, Cyprus and Hungary. Plus, there are four other countries which have not enacted data retention in the first place: Sweden, Greece, Ireland and Austria.
That’s nine out of 27 member states in the European Union which flat out refuse to enact, or have enacted and retracted, this very high-profiled directive. To have one-third of the member states refuse something with that much prestige from the Commission is a devastating blow to its credibility, and perhaps to the Union as a whole.
But maybe, just maybe, it’s not the Union which is bad, but the idea that you can make a law that requires wiretapping and registration of all human communications. Maybe civil disobedience is very necessary, on a state and individual level, when somebody gets such a horrible idea.
Kudos to the unanimous Constitutional Court of the Czech Republic. Today, you made the world a little better.
UPDATE: The Constitutional Court, not Supreme Court as first reported.