Surveillance laws challenged in court by two MPs

The government's emergency surveillance law, The Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act (DRIPA), is being challenged in the courts by the human rights organisation Liberty on behalf of  two MPs.

If public bodies are believed to have made decisions unlawfully, then a judicial review can be sought, and this is what the former Conservative minister David Davis and Labour's Tom Watson are doing.  They are saying that when the bill was fast-tracked through Parliament in single day in July 2014, the justification was false.  The government claimed that without the new law the UK's ability to fight crime and protect the country against terrorism would be seriously impeded as a ruling by the European Union's Court of Justice had rendered existing powers illegal.

Watson and Davis say the legislation lacked adequate safeguards, and needs to be re-thought as it contravenes the Human Rights Act (Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, the right to respect for private and family life) as well as with Articles 7 and 8 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights (respect for private and family life and protection of personal data).

The legislation relates to the harvesting and retention of data only - accessing stored data is governed by separate laws.

David Davis told the BBC: “The government declared a bogus emergency to push it through the house in one day...it allows access under relatively lax controls .....for not very serious crimes and not even crimes at all.   We've got to challenge it in court to make sure the government puts right the lax access, the large scale collection and the use of data from our phones...”

In a statement to the press, Emma Norton, Legal Officer for Liberty, said: “The executive dominance of Parliament in rushing through this legislation—using a wholly fabricated 'emergency'—made a mockery of parliamentary sovereignty and the rule of law, and showed a staggering disregard for the entire population's right to privacy."