High court ruling on DRIPA mass surveillance powers appealed by UK govt

© Kieran Doherty
Mass surveillance in the UK is under scrutiny yet again as the government appeals a ruling won by MPs and campaigners which found a controversial snooping program breached European law and threatened the rights of citizens.

The government is challenging a decision won by David Davis MP, Deputy Labour Party leader Tom Watson and the human rights group Liberty in July 2015 which found the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act (DRIPA) inconsistent with European Union law.

Campaigners say the invasive surveillance program is too extreme, leaving UK citizens vulnerable due to a lack of judicial oversight.

DRIPA was rushed through Parliament in a matter of days in July 2014 by the Coalition government, with no time for scrutiny and little debate,” Liberty said in a statement.

As well as allowing state agencies to capture and hold the communications data of every person in the UK for up to 12 months, the act extends to “MPs, journalists, lawyers, doctors and others whose correspondence may be confidential or privileged,” Liberty further warns.

The ruling found that sections one and two of the act breached the “British public’s rights to protection of personal data and to respect for private life and communications under the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights” on two grounds.

Firstly, that the act failed to ensure data would only be used to deal with serious crime and, secondly, because it did not “require data to be authorized by a court or independent body, which could limit access to and use of data to what is strictly necessary.

The government’s defeat in July was not a surprise,” Conservative David Davis MP said of the previous ruling.

Concerns over its surveillance powers have been voiced time and again. The government has for some time ignored all criticism of these powers and allowed policy in this area to be dictated by the security services.