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Belgian Constitutional Court Annuls Data Retention Framework for Electronic Communications Data

On April 22, 2021, the Belgian Constitutional Court annulled (in French) the framework set forth by the Law of 29 May 2016 (the “Law”) requiring telecommunications providers to retain electronic communications data in bulk.

The Constitutional Court’s decision follows an October 6, 2020 Court of Justice of the European Union (“CJEU”) ruling (in French) on preliminary questions related to the compatibility of the data retention framework with EU law. According to the CJEU, EU law prohibits EU Member States from imposing rules that require preventive general and indiscriminate storage of traffic and location data, except in special circumstances (such as in the event of a serious threat to national security).

The Constitutional Court found that, although retention of communications data is allowed under certain circumstances, the Law did not comply with any of the exceptions described by the CJEU, and the court therefore annulled the provisions of the Law that required such data storage.

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