EU court rules against mass data collection despite terror concerns
The Court of Justice of the European Union ruled on Wednesday that laws in Britain and Sweden allowing the collection of electronic communications data for intelligence and counterterror purposes are not legal. The laws allow intelligence organizations to collect data from cellular, landline and internet communications of citizens and visitors from abroad. The communications do not include the content of the conversations, text messages or e-mail, but rather the metadata, namely those involved, as well as the location, time, length, IP addresses and other electronic data allowing intelligence organizations to track suspects, investigate and sometimes thwart crimes before they occur. Monday night's truck attack in Berlin and the inability of German security services to arrest the terrorist raise serious questions about the court's ruling and demonstrate the difficulty that Europe faces in eliminating terror. In 2006, the European Parliament issued a directive instructing all member states to collect communications data and retain it for a number of years, but in 2014 the Court of Justice ruled that the directive was invalid as it violated fundamental rights.