The Stack Archive

UK government to push through emergency data storage law by end of next week

Thu 10 Jul 2014

The coalition government is to pass through a rushed surveillance law next week which will force UK ISPs to retain all records of customer calls, texts and internet activity.

The reform comes amongst a new wave of security measures announced by Downing Street, including tighter airport control, and concerns over ‘radicalised’ behaviour stemming from the current conflict in Syria.

This latest ruling strongly echoes the UK’s Communications Data Bill, otherwise tagged the Snooper’s Charter, which was ruled “invalid” by the European Court of Justice in April. The measure was found to be unsound on the grounds that a two year retention of data by ISPs would “interfere[s] in a particularly serious manner with the fundamental rights to respect for private life and to the protection of personal data.”

Although the Tory-led coalition is backed by both Labour and the Liberal Democrats in this ruling, the Liberal Democrats have called for assurance that the new proposal is not built as a “backdoor” to the Snooper’s Charter. Data under the new amendment would be stored for 12 months, as opposed to the two years rejected by the EU, and could therefore come across as a compromise between the two governing bodies. However, a secondary European overruling is not out of the question.

Whatever the outcome of the measure, it is clear that the UK government will not drop their bid to legislate communications data despite concerns over legal validity.

On Monday, a spokesperson from the Home Office said, in anticipation of the emergency law: “The retention of communications data is absolutely fundamental to ensure law enforcement have the powers they need to investigate crime, protect the public and ensure national security.

“We are carefully considering the European Court of Justice’s judgment on data retention and are currently examining potential next steps.”

At a time when the government is looking to justify its mass surveillance through GCHQ, these plans are sure to provoke controversy.



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