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Sweden: Data Retention No Longer Required of Telecom Companies

(Apr. 24, 2014) Following the April 8, 2014, verdict of the Court of Justice of the European Union invalidating the European Data Retention Directive, the Swedish oversight authority Post-och Telestyrelsen (PTS) announced on April 10, 2014, that it will not take actions against operators that stop collecting data. (Press Release, Judgment in Joined Cases C-293/12 and C-594/12 Digital Rights Ireland and Seitlinger and Others (Apr. 8, 2014), COURT OF JUSTICE OF THE EUROPEAN UNION; PTS kommer inte i nuläget att vidta åtgärder utifrån datalagringsreglerna [PTS Will Not at Present Take Any Measures Based on Data Retention Rules], PTS website (Apr. 10, 2014).

Swedish telecom companies opposed the Directive from the start and now interpret the EU Court’s verdict as banning the storage of metadata because such storage violates privacy and integrity. (Teleoperatörer stoppar datalagring [Telecoms Stop Data Retention], SVT (Apr. 10, 2014).)

Sweden dragged its feet in implementing the Directive because it was met with vehement protest from the country’s opposition parties (the Left and the Greens). Sweden was subsequently fined by the EU for implementing the Directive late in 2012 and may now be able to ask that the fine payment be returned. (EU:s Datalagringsdirektiv ogiltigt [EU’s Data Retention Directive Invalid], SVT (Apr. 8, 2014).)

The Green Party is now calling for the Parliament to repeal the Swedish legislation that implements the Directive. (MP kräver stopp för datalagring efter EU domstolens dom men regeringen vill vänta [Greens Demand Stop of Data Retention Following European Court of Justice Verdict but the Government Wants to Wait], DAGENS JURIDIK (Apr. 16, 2014).)

The verdict has been met with opposition from the Swedish police, who say it now will all but make it impossible to find net predators such as those carrying out Internet-based libel and child pornographers. (Chefen för rikskriminalen till angrepp mot EU domstolens beslut om datalagringsdirektivet [Chief of the Swedish Police Opposes EU Court’s Decision on Data Retention Directive], DAGENS JURIDIK (Apr. 14, 2014).) The Chief of Police hopes Swedish Internet operators will look to “what’s best for society” and continue to retain the data. (Id.)

The European Commission has previously said that it intends to amend the Directive, but no time schedule has been set. (Data Retention, European Commission website (Jan. 20, 2104).)