Huffington Post: Yesterday's ruling was a victory against mass surveillance

Posted by Soledad Vega on Fri, 07/17/2015 - 15:13

The Internet was never meant to be a tool for governments to spy on the private lives of everybody. Let's hope more courts agree with that. 

Article by James Welch for the Huffington Post

Last year, despite the shadow of the Snowden revelations looming large, the Coalition Government opted to pave the way for yet more unchecked surveillance, by rushing so-called "emergency" legislation into law inside a matter of days.

That law - the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act ("DRIPA", for short) - allows the home secretary to require the retention of all our communications data - who we e-mail, call or text, the websites we visit and where we are when we use our smartphones. Such data is then subject to an extremely lax access regime, allowing it be acquired by hundreds of public authorities - all but local authorities free to grant access themselves, for reasons wholly unrelated to investigating serious crime.

Not only did ministers ignore an EU Court of Justice judgment, delivered in April 2014 (three months before DRIPA emerged - so perhaps not such an "emergency" after all), which ruled that blanket retention of private data breached human rights. But the way in which it was railroaded onto the statute book - after a private stitch-up between the then three main party leaders - made proper scrutiny, amendment and even debate in Parliament impossible.

Neither we - nor two MPs from opposing sides of the chamber, David Davis and Tom Watson - were prepared to let such an abuse of power go unchecked. So we launched a legal case, arguing that DRIPA was unlawful. 

Today - exactly one year after the legislation received Royal Assent - the High Court has agreed.

- Read more at the Huffington Post