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EU Court Nixes Challenge to Data Retention Policy

(CN) - The European Court of Justice on Tuesday upheld the European Council's decision to adopt a system of retaining data that might be used to prosecute criminals or terrorists in other member states, despite protest by Ireland and Slovakia.

The council adopted the "data retention directive" in February 2006. Ireland and Slovakia voted against it.

Ireland objected to the council's legal basis for adopting the directive. The council said the directive fell within the framework of the EC Treaty, which allows member states to adopt measures related to the "establishment and functioning of the internal market."

But the data retention directive deals with the investigation, detection and prosecution of crime, rather than the functioning of the internal market, Ireland and Slovakia claimed.

Europe's high court disagreed. It noted that the treaty allows member states to eliminate disparities between national rules that could "obstruct the fundamental freedoms or create distortions of competition." Thus, any measures adopted within this framework "have a direct effect on the functioning of the internal market," the court concluded.

The court added that the directive targets service providers and does not govern access to or use of data by the police or judicial authorities.

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