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: data retention, dripa, eu court of justice, eucj, investigatory powers bill, ipbill, snooper's charter, surveillance


Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  • identicon
    nope, 20 Jul 2016 @ 6:33pm

    not interested

    I could care less what the ecvoj its all failure in any case

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Lisboeta, 21 Jul 2016 @ 2:14am

      Re: not interested

      You may not care, but not everyone is an ostrich. A lot of people living in the UK are concerned about this. As are many people living elsewhere in the EU. Heck, we even care about the outcome of the USA Presidential election. And things like TTIP. Infernal busybodies, that's us.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Coyne Tibbets (profile), 21 Jul 2016 @ 2:37am

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Padpaw (profile), 21 Jul 2016 @ 8:16am

      Re: Ruling and ruled

      those that rule through corruption and graft eventually cause the fall of the empire. though it may take decades to centuries if the citizenry does not rise up in revolt first.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Wendy Cockcroft, 22 Jul 2016 @ 5:51am

        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.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


Add Your Comment

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



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Close

Add A Reply

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



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Techdirt Gear
Shop Now: Copying Is Not Theft
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads

Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.