null Memorandum on the retention of electronic communication traffic data submitted for statements

Memorandum on the retention of electronic communication traffic data submitted for statements

Press release 25.03.2021 16.15 fi sv en

A young woman using a mobile phone. (Photo: Shutterstock)

The Ministry of Transport and Communications has sent a memorandum concerning the retention of electronic communication traffic data to be circulated for statements. The Ministry uses the memorandum to collect opinions on whether the Finnish regulation needs to be changed.

In addition to the content of messages, the protection of communication confidentiality, personal data and private life also covers all traffic data of electronic communication. This traffic data includes, for example, mobile phone number, name of the subscription orderer and time and place of the communication. The traffic data provides information about the person, even though it does not reveal the content of the communication.

In 2006, the European Union gave a directive concerning the data retention of electronic communication traffic data, but in 2014, the European Court of Justice deemed it to be invalid. According to the Court of Justice, the directive interfered unreasonably with the protection of citizens’ personal data and private life.

In order for the traffic data to be available for the authorities, for example, in a criminal investigation, most European Union Member States have national regulations concerning the retention of traffic data. The Court of Justice has at regular intervals received from the courts of Member States references for a preliminary ruling on whether the national regulations meet the requirements of the EU’s internal data protection directive for electronic communication and the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union.

Decisions of the Court of Justice of the EU on data retention

The Court of Justice of the European Union has recently given several preliminary rulings on the type of national regulation on data retention that is in accordance with the data protection directive and the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. These rulings do not directly concern the Finnish legislation. However, all Member States must take into account the content of the rulings. The most recent similar assessment of the impact of the Court of Justice rulings on national regulation was carried out in 2017.

The conclusion of the memorandum was that the new preliminary rulings do not create immediate need for change in the national regulation. However, the assessment noticed certain matters that must be taken into account more clearly if the regulation is changed in the future.

The Court of Justice still has pending references for preliminary rulings concerning data retention. The electronic communication data protection regulation, for which the EU-level negotiations are still ongoing, also changes the legal state. The legal state is still developing, and assessments of how in accordance the Finnish legislation is with the European Union law must be updated when necessary.

What next?

The memorandum on the data retention of electronic communication traffic data has been submitted for statements on 24 March 2021. The circulation for comment will end on 11 May 2021.

Statements can be made by all organisations and citizens online via www.lausuntopalvelu.fi or by email to kirjaamo@lvm.fi.

After the round of statements, public officials will continue with the preparatory legislative work.

Further information

Special Advisor Tuomas Kaivola, tel. +358 50 525 8367

Director of Unit Maria Rautavirta tel. +358 40 718 5975, Twitter: @mrautavirta