MPs have voted to fast-track the government’s emergency Data Retention and Investigatory Powers (Drip) Bill, despite criticism from legal academics that the legislation breaches European law.
The emergency surveillance bill was yesterday granted fast-track approval in the Commons by 436 votes to 49.
The legislation is a response to a European Court of Justice ruling in April that the current retention of data by communications service providers for law enforcement purposes breached article 8 of the Human Rights Act, which guarantees respect for private life.
In an open letter to the Commons, 15 experts legal experts in technology law voiced their concern.
The academics, including a number of legal experts such as Julia Powles, researcher in law and technology at the University of Cambridge and Lorna Woods, professor of internet law at the University of Essex, said the bill extends surveillance powers ‘considerably’.
Mass data retention by the UK falls within the scope of EU law, under the EU’s privacy Directive (Article 15, Directive 2002/5) and as such the proposed bill may breach EU law, ‘as mass surveillance still falls foul of the criteria set out by the Court of Justice in the Digital Rights and Seitlinger judgment’, said the letter.
Martyn Thomas from the Institution of Engineering and Technology said: ‘Hasty legislation has often proved to be badly flawed. The government has not yet published the detail of the proposed bill, so it’s important to make sure that the draft bill is examined and debated in detail before legislation is passed.’
Last week Law Society president Andrew Caplen said the legislation did nothing to enhance the rule of law ‘or address the fact that we are increasingly becoming a surveillance society’.