UK court to review legality of fast-tracked surveillance law

Although the law might be illegal, the UK government is looking to expand its web snooping capabilities

A surveillance law that was rushed through by the U.K. government will be reviewed by the country's High Court to determine if it violates human rights.

The Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act 2014, also known as DRIPA, was adopted in July by the U.K. government, after the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU) invalidated EU laws requiring communication providers to retain metadata. The EU court said those laws seriously interfered with fundamental privacy rights. Since the U.K. law that preceded DRIPA was based on the invalidated EU laws, it needed replacement legislation.

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

That is why U.K. human rights organization Liberty, along with two members of the British Parliament, decided to seek a review of the law. Permission for such a review was granted on Monday, Liberty said on Twitter. "This is the first stage of the process. It means the court will proceed to a full judicial review," said Elizabeth Knight, legal director of the Open Rights Group (ORG) which joined the case together with Privacy International after the case was filed. "After the Court of Justice of the EU declared the Data Retention Directive invalid, the U.K. government had the opportunity to design new legislation that would protect human rights. It chose instead to circumvent the decision of the CJEU by introducing the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act, which is almost identical to the Data Retention Directive," Knight said. The ORG wants to help demonstrate that DRIPA breaches the fundamental human right to privacy and does not comply with human rights and EU law, she said.

Even though DRIPA is quite new and now under review, the U.K. government is already planning to add onto the law to address a so-called "capabilities gap" that authorities face when trying to obtain communications data.

In November it unveiled a counterterrorism bill which would require ISPs to retain IP addresses in order to identify individual users of Internet services, a thing that DRIPA does not provide for.

The High Court will now review DRIPA in a substantive hearing which will probably last for a few days, Knight said. The date for the hearing hasn't been announced but will probably be set after February next year, she said.

Loek is Amsterdam Correspondent and covers online privacy, intellectual property, online payment issues as well as EU technology policy and regulation 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 privacylegislationlegaltwittereuliberty

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

Essentials

Mobile

Exec

Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Tom Sellers

MSI P65

This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang

MSI GT76

It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?