EU Court Of Justice Advisor Suggests UK's Last Surveillance Bill May Be Legal, But Hints That The New One Might Not Be

from the reading-the-tea-leaves dept

Over at the EU Court of Justice, the Advocate General has weighed in on the legal challenge to DRIPA, the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Bill (DRIPA) that was rushed through the UK Parliament almost exactly two years ago. The law was challenged by a group made up of cross-party Parliament Members, and the Advocate General has sort of punted on the issue. If you don’t recall, the Advocate General’s role in the EU Court of Justice is basically to make a recommendation for the actual rulings. The court doesn’t have to (and doesn’t always) follow the Advocate General’s suggestion, but does so often enough that the opinions certainly carry a lot of weight and suggest what’s likely to happen. In this case, the opinion stated that, even though the court had previously rejected the EU-wide Data Retention Directive as intruding on privacy — the UK’s data retention law might be okay.

The opinion basically says some data retention laws may be okay if the powers are “circumscribed by strict safeguards” set up by the national courts.

Of course, the timing on this is important, given that the UK is (1) eagerly trying to push through its new surveillance law, the Investigatory Powers Bill which was (2) championed by then Home Secretary Theresa May as a necessary surveillance tool — and May is now the Prime Minister due to a series of issues in the UK you may have heard about lately. And some folks who are trying to read the tea leaves of the Advocate General’s opinion are suggesting that it may actually hint that while the old DRIPA might possibly be okay, the new Investigatory Powers bill probably is not. Of course, a lot of this depends on how you read the opinion and how certain key phrases are interpreted.

Many of those responding to Tuesday’s opinion emphasised the main finding that “solely the fight against serious crime is an objective in the general interest that is capable of justifying a general obligation to retain data, whereas combating ordinary offences and the smooth conduct of proceedings other than criminal proceedings are not.”

Basically, it appears that while it may be possible to twist DRIPA into shape so that it’s not violating the court’s required safeguards, the same cannot be said for the new bill. Whether or not that actually stops forward progress on that bill is another story altogether. And, of course, if the UK really is going to go through with its plan to leave the EU entirely, none of this may matter at all. Well, except for the privacy of everyone in the UK.

Filed Under: , , , , , , ,

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “EU Court Of Justice Advisor Suggests UK's Last Surveillance Bill May Be Legal, But Hints That The New One Might Not Be”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
5 Comments
Coyne Tibbets (profile) says:

Ruling and ruled

Many of those responding to Tuesday’s opinion emphasised the main finding that “solely the fight against serious crime is an objective in the general interest that is capable of justifying a general obligation to retain data, whereas combating ordinary offences and the smooth conduct of proceedings other than criminal proceedings are not.”

Nice ruling. Translation: You can make them keep data for any serious crime–such as that “serious crime” of copyright infringement–but you can’t make them keep data that might expose the inner (mis)workings of government or corporations.

The ruling so wonderfully expresses the difference between ruling and ruled.

Wendy Cockcroft (user link) says:

Re: Re: Ruling and ruled

The last time the UK citizenry rose up in revolt against a corrupt government we ended up with Oliver Cromwell, who was so flippin’ brutal to the Irish he’s regarded as the boogeyman in my homeland.

When Cromwell died, his son Richard “Tumbledown Dick” was offered the job but was too weak so the people thought, “Sod it, let’s get another king,” so they asked Charlie’s son James “Party on, dudes!” to return from exile. This is why we still have a monarchy.

Be careful what you wish for.

Leave a Reply to Wendy Cockcroft Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published.

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...
Loading...