Faced with a lawsuit from NGOs challenging the legality of its data retention regulations (which are based on the data retention directive the European Court of Justice found unlawful in April 2014), the UK government brought in emergency legislation, a Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Bill (DRIP), to not only declare data retention to be still lawful but also expand the scope of both retention and lawful intercept in a number of ways.
For example, the UK government has awarded itself the extra-territorial power to demand assistance with surveillance of UK persons from foreign companies that provide communications services to people in Britain. This means that the UK security and intelligence services can demand that Google UK wiretap someone associated with Britain, rather than filing an application via the relevant mutual legal assistance treaty.
UK civil society campaigned actively against the new legislation. Many Members of Parliament (MP) received hundreds of emails each from EDRi member Open Rights Group’s (ORG) and a campaigning community 38 Degrees’ supporters, as well as phone calls from concerned constituents.
The law was pushed through the House of Commons on 15 July, while the press were distracted by a reshuffle of the Cabinet. Following secret negotiations, it was supported by all three main parties. They claimed untruthfully that the new law creates no new powers. The government was claiming it was an emergency and without it the powers needed by the police to fight terrorists and paedophiles would be lost.
“This fast track legislation contains sweeping surveillance powers that will affect every man, woman and child in the UK. The Bill contains the powers for Government to continue to mandate the blanket retention of the communications data of the whole population for 12 months,”
concludes the briefing on the fast-track Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Bill by Liberty, Privacy International, Open Rights Group, Big Brother Watch, Article 19 and English PEN.
“This is in direct contradiction of a Court judgement which held that blanket indiscriminate retention of communications data breached human rights.”
Liberty, Privacy International, Open Rights Group, Big Brother Watch, Article 19 and English PEN briefing on the fast-track Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Bill https://www.openrightsgroup.org/assets/files/pdfs/reports/DRIP_joint_briefing.pdf
#DRIP heroes, round one (15.07.2014)
The DRIP myth list (14.07.2014)
(Contribution by Ross Anderson, EDRi member Foundation for Information Policy Research, United Kingdom, and Jim Killock, EDRi member Open Rights Group, United Kingdom)