It could not come at a worse time for the European Union, still reeling over bugging by the NSA and GCHQ. Germany, the Union’s biggest economy and biggest political driver, has suspended implementation of Directive 2006/24/EC better known as the Data Retention Directive.
The issue even threatens Angela Merkel’s ‘Grand Coalition’, as the centre-left SDP has broken ranks with the ‘Rightist’ CDU and CSU and has recommended delaying the Directive’s implementation into German law on Constitutional grounds.
The Directive forces data, such as SMS, internet activity, and email to be held for between six months and two years on separate servers by operators. Germany’s constitutional court ruled the Directive inconsistent with the Constitution in 2010, and has been at the centre of an EU/Germany spat at the European Court of Justice ever since.
In an interview with Der Spiegel at the weekend, new Justice Minister Heiko Maas of the SDP has called for a delay regardless of how the verdict from the Luxembourg-based court turns out in two months’ time, potentially leaving Germany open to substantial fines.
The Directive is intended to combat terrorism and serious crime, and the information will be shared amongst law enforcement agencies across the European Union. It will also become a cornerstone for the putative EU Intelligence Agency, EU INTCEN, which Vivien Reding has called to become the central intelligence agency for the continent by 2020.
The State will always have to balance personal liberties and national security, and it would benefit UKIP if we can make absolutely clear where this balance lies.