Cyprus / Supreme Court of Cyprus, Appeal Jurisdiction / Civil Appeal No. 26/2017 Re. the Application of Artemis Kkolos for the issue of a certiorari order

Key facts of the case:

 In 2017 the appellant applied to the Supreme Court seeking to annul an order issued by the first instance court which had granted access to his IP address. At the first instance trial, the applicant had argued that the issue of the order for access to his IP address infringed his right to privacy and confidentiality of communication; articles 7, 8, 11 and 52 of the EU Charter; and Council Directive 2002/58/EC as interpreted by the CJEU in Tele2 Sveridge AB.[1] The first instance court rejected his application on the ground that Tele2 Sveridge AB did not affect national provisions of data retention for combating crime. One of the reasons cited by the first instance court for the non-applicability of the Tele2 Sveridge ruling in the case at hand was that the CJEU ruling was issued after the court order had granted access to the applicant’s IP address and could not be taken into consideration for being post-dated. As additional reason for rejecting the applicant’s claim, the lower court had found that the ruling in Tele2 Sveridge was not intended to have an impact on actions intended to combat crime.


[1] Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), C‑203/15 and C‑698/15, Tele2 Sverige AB v. Post- och telestyrelsen and Secretary of State for the Home Department,  21 December 2016, available at http://curia.europa.eu/juris/document/document.jsf?docid=186492&doclang=EN

 
Key legal question raised by the Court:
 
Whether there were sufficient grounds in order to reverse the trial court decision which had granted access to the applicant’s telecommunication data, in light of the interpretation Directive 2002/58/EC given by the CJEU in the Tele2 Sveridge.
 
Outcome of the case:

The appeal court found that, given the supremacy of the EU acquis over the Constitution, the timing of the ruling in Tele2 Sveridge and the fact that it was issued after the challenged court order could not legitimise an order which, by virtue of a CJEU ruling, does not comply with the EU Charter. The interpretation of the Directive by the CJEU in the protection of rights protected by the EU Charter must be seen as existing since the adoption of Directive 2002/58/EC.

The Supreme Court concluded there is a prima facie that the CJEU ruling in Tele2 Sveridge affects the legality of a court order granting access to telecommunication data retained under a law that may potentially infringe the Charter.[1] The Court refrained from conclusively deciding on the compliance of the national data retention law with the Charter at the current stage and decided only to allow the appeal and set aside the trial court decision which had authorised access to the applicant’s data.

The Court did not consider the question of the applicability of the Charter in light of the fact that the national data retention law is, strictly speaking, not transposing the EU acquis.


[1] Cyprus, Law on the Retention of Telecommunications Data for the purpose of investigating serious crimes (Ο περί Διατήρησης Τηλεπικοινωνιακών Δεδομένων με Σκοπό τη Διερεύνηση Σοβαρών Ποινικών Αδικημάτων Νόμος του 2007) N.183(I)/2007. Available at www.cylaw.org/nomoi/enop/non-ind/2007_1_183/full.html.

 

 

Paragraphs referring to EU Charter: 

"First of all, we note that the fact that the decision of the CJEU was issued after the date of adoption of the contested order cannot, in our opinion, confer legality on the order if its issue on the basis of the decision of the CJEU is incompatible with the relevant provisions of the Charter of Human Rights. As Mr Stefanou rightly pointed out, the legality check also includes the assessment of compliance of the provisions of the relevant legislation with the acquis communautaire which, under Article 1A of the Constitution, ranks higher than the Constitution. The interpretation of the relevant Directive offered by the CJEU on the protection of Fundamental Rights safeguarded by the Charter is presumed to have existed since the adoption of the Directive.

The CJEU decided that these Laws restricted the fundamental rights to privacy and to the protection of personal data (Articles 7 and 8 of the Charter). Given their wide scope and limited safeguards, none of these restrictions were considered justified, even where the aim was to combat serious crime. However, this purpose may justify the targeted retention of traffic data and location data, provided that their retention is limited to what is strictly necessary with regard to the categories of data retained, the means of communication affected, the persons whose data are retained, as well as the duration of the retention period.

Following the above CJEU ruling, the legality of the order issued may be prima facie compromised in the sense that it was this order which had authorised access to telephone data that retained on the basis of legislative provisions that may infringe the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU. This can only be determined through a detailed examination of the decision and its impact on the constitutionality of our own Law. Given the stage which this case is at, and in order to avoid a duplication of the assessment of a serious legal issue, we will not proceed to its further examination."

Paragraphs referring to EU Charter (original language): 

"Κατ΄ αρχάς, σημειώνουμε πως το γεγονός ότι η απόφαση του ΔΕΕ εκδόθηκε μετά την ημερομηνία έκδοσης του προσβαλλόμενου διατάγματος, δεν μπορεί, κατά τη γνώμη μας, να προσδώσει νομιμότητα στο διάταγμα εάν η έκδοσή του με βάση την απόφαση του ΔΕΕ δεν συνάδει με τις σχετικές πρόνοιες του Χάρτη Ανθρωπίνων Δικαιωμάτων. Όπως ορθά υπέδειξε ο κ. Στεφάνου, ο έλεγχος της νομιμότητας περιλαμβάνει και την κρίση της εγκυρότητας διατάξεων της σχετικής νομοθεσίας ως προς τη συμβατότητά τους με το Κοινοτικό Κεκτημένο, το οποίο, με βάση το Άρθρο 1Α του Συντάγματος, έχει αυξημένη ισχύ έναντι του Συντάγματος. Η ερμηνεία της σχετικής Οδηγίας που δόθηκε από το ΔΕΕ στην προστασία των Θεμελιωδών Δικαιωμάτων που προστατεύονται από το Χάρτη θεωρείται πως υπήρχε από τη θέσπιση της Οδηγίας."

"Το ΔΕΕ έκρινε ότι οι Νόμοι αυτοί περιόριζαν τα θεμελιώδη δικαιώματα στην ιδιωτική ζωή και στην προστασία των δεδομένων προσωπικού χαρακτήρα (άρθρα 7 και 8 του Χάρτη). Δεδομένης της ευρείας εμβέλειας και των περιορισμένων διασφαλίσεών τους, κανένας από τους περιορισμούς αυτούς δεν θεωρήθηκε δικαιολογημένος, ακόμη και στις περιπτώσεις που ο σκοπός ήταν η καταπολέμηση του σοβαρού εγκλήματος. Ωστόσο, ο σκοπός αυτός μπορεί να δικαιολογήσει τη στοχευμένη διατήρηση των δεδομένων κίνησης και των δεδομένων θέσης, υπό την προϋπόθεση ότι η διατήρησή τους περιορίζεται σε ό,τι είναι απολύτως αναγκαίο όσον αφορά τις κατηγορίες διατηρούμενων δεδομένων, τα μέσα επικοινωνίας που επηρεάζονται, τα πρόσωπα των οποίων τα δεδομένα διατηρούνται, καθώς και το διάστημα διατήρησης."

Language: 
Greek
Deciding body (original language): 
Ανώτατο Δικαστήριο Κύπρου, Δευτεροβάθμια Δικαιοδοσία
Language: 
Greek