Abstract: Legal frameworks exist within democracies to prevent the misuse and abuse of personal data that law enforcement authorities obtain from private communication service providers. The fundamental rights to respect for private life and the protection of personal data underpin this framework within the European Union. Accordingly, the protection of the principles and safeguards required by these rights is key to ensuring that the oversight of State surveillance powers is robust and transparent. Furthermore, without the robust scrutiny of independent judicial review, the principles and safeguards guaranteed by these rights may become more illusory than real. Following the Edward Snowden revelations, major concerns have been raised worldwide regarding the legality, necessity and proportionality standards governing these laws. In 2014, the highest court in the EU struck down the legal framework that imposed a mandatory duty on communication service providers to undertake the mass retention of metadata for secret intelligence and law enforcement authorities across the EU. This article considers the influence of the Snowden revelations on this landmark judgment. Subsequently, the analysis explores the significance of this ruling for the future reform of EU law governing metadata surveillance and its contribution to the worldwide debate on indiscriminate and covert monitoring in the post-Snowden era.
Keywords: Edward Snowden; EU law; human rights; judicial review; mass surveillance; metadata; personal data; privacy