Emergency surveillance legislation adjudged unlawful

The high court has found that emergency surveillance legislation introduced by the coalition government last year is unlawful.

A judicial challenge by the Labour MP Tom Watson and the Conservative MP David Davis has overturned the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act (Dripa) 2014. The judges ruled that data retention powers in the legislation were inconsistent with EU laws, according to a report in The Guardian.

The government has been ordered to pass new legislation that must come into effect by the end of next March.

In their challenge, supported by the human rights organisation Liberty, Davis and Watson argued that the law allowed the police and security services to spy on citizens without proper safeguards.

They argued that the legislation was incompatible with Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, the right to respect for private and family life, and articles 7 and 8 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, respect for private and family life and protection of personal data.

Lord Justice Bean and Mr Justice Collins declared that Section One of Dripa “does not lay down clear and precise rules providing for access to and use of communications data” and should be “disapplied”. But the judges said their order should be suspended until after 31 March 2016 “to give parliament the opportunity to put matters right.”

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