EFJ Slams UK for Pushing through Data Retention Law

The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) today has criticised the UK government’s hasty move to rush through a controversial data retention law that will allow the government to have greater control of personal data of citizens and journalists.

“It is shocking that the UK government is pushing through a law that has just been invalidated by the European Court of Justice (ECJ),” said Ricardo Gutierrez, EFJ General Secretary.

“We are extremely concerned that such an intrusive law will violate the privacy of citizens as well as those of journalists whose duty to protect confidential sources could be compromised.”

The EFJ is backing the call by its affiliate in the UK, the National Union of Journalists (NUJ), demanding the government to amend the existing law to make exemptions for journalism.

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In April, the ECJ has declared that the European data retention law (Directive 2006/24/EC) to be invalid as it is not compatible with the human rights law concerning privacy and data protection.

The Court also finds that the law does not provide for sufficient safeguards to ensure effective protection of the data against the risk of abuse and against any unlawful access and use of the data.

In response to the recent developments, the EFJ has written to the EU Commissioner responsible for Home Affairs, Ms Cecilia Malmström, asking the Commission to clarify the validity of the European law on data retention (Directive 2006/24/EC).

The EFJ also asked the Commission to carry out an immediate review of the law and make necessary amendments to make it compatible with fundamental rights laws and to provide safeguards to journalists in fulfilling their duties to protect confidential sources.

The UK government has held an emergency debate yesterday in the Parliament and received criticism about the proposed law. Academic and privacy rights campaigners also warned that the law, if adopted, could violate European Charter on fundamental rights.

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