Members of UK Parliament call for judicial review of data retention law

A hastily adopted surveillance law violates fundamental privacy rights and should be changed, a human rights organization said

Two members of the British Parliament are seeking judicial review of a surveillance law that extends U.K. data retention rules and was rushed through by the government.

David Davis and Tom Watson are working with U.K. human rights organization Liberty to get the law reviewed, the organization said Tuesday.

Liberty contends that the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act 2014, also known as DRIP, which was adopted last week, is incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights and the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, which cover fundamental privacy rights.

DRIP was fast-tracked by the U.K. government after EU laws requiring communications providers to retain metadata were ruled invalid by the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU) in April because they seriously interfered with fundamental privacy rights.

Under the EU's Data Retention Directive, communication service providers had to retain communications data for periods of between six months and two years for law enforcement purposes. That directive was transposed into U.K. law and the CJEU's ruling directly affected the legislation. DRIP was introduced to allow law enforcement agencies to access telecommunications data.

However, according to civil rights advocates, the new law is worse than the one it replaces. For instance, it not only gives law enforcement officers access to metadata but allows them access to the content of messages, even if they are held by companies outside the U.K.

"The bill was privately agreed following discussions between the three main party leaders. It became law within just three days -- rendering proper parliamentary scrutiny, amendment and even debate impossible," Liberty said, calling it "ridiculous" and "offensive" to introduce an emergency law.

"The court ruling that blanket data retention breached the privacy of every man, woman and child in the U.K. was more than three months ago. The government has shown contempt for both the rule of law and Parliamentary Sovereignty, and this private cross party stitch-up, railroaded onto the statute book inside three days, is ripe for challenge in the Courts," Liberty legal director James Welch said in a statement.

Liberty asked the U.K. home secretary to concede that the act is indeed incompatible with EU rights and to present a replacement bill, allowing parliament to fulfill its proper constitutional function, Welch said, adding that the government has seven days to respond. "If the government does not agree to this, we will issue judicial review proceedings," he said in an email response to a request for comment.

That means that Liberty will ask the court to rule on whether the new act is compatible with EU regulation, Welch said. If the court declares the legislation incompatible that would be a signal that the government and parliament should look at the legislation again and take steps to change it, he added in the email.

The U.K.'s Open Rights Group also threatened legal action over the law last week and is said to be considering the best way to take the government to court.

Loek is Amsterdam Correspondent and covers online privacy, intellectual property, open-source and online payment issues for the IDG News Service. Follow him on Twitter at @loekessers or email tips and comments to loek_essers@idg.com

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags governmentlegislationlegal

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Loek Essers

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?