DRIPA “unlawful” according to High Court judgment

A year to the day that DRIPA was enacted its early demise has been confirmed in the High Court.

Today’s judgment in the judicial review brought by David Davis MP and Tom Watson MP is a huge blow to the Government.

The Court has found DRIPA to be unlawful, proving that rushing emergency legislation through Parliament with no scrutiny and little debate was not the way to solve the issue of national security concerns and surveillance. As the Court state in the judgment “legislation enacted in haste is more prone to error.”

The ruling is abundantly clear. Section 1 of DRIPA which states that the Secretary of State can issue a notice to a telecommunications operator to “retain relevant communications data” if the Secretary of State considers it to be “necessary and proportionate” is “inconsistent with EU law”.

The Court state clearly that communications data should only be retained for the “prevention and detection of serious offences or the conduct of criminal prosecutions relating to such offences”.

It goes on to say that it is necessary that “prior review by a court or an independent administrative body” who will determine “what is strictly necessary” must be applied to any access for retained data.

This judgment is in line with the recommendations made by both David Anderson QC in his report “A Question of Trust” and the review of surveillance powers conducted by RUSI.

Today’s ruling effectively brings the sunset clause date of 31st December 2016 for DRIPA forward to the 31st March 2016. Whilst the court was prepared to make DRIPA ineffective immediately, Mr Davis and Mr Watson requested that more time be given to give Parliament “a reasonable opportunity to legislate proper safeguards.”

Government now have the summer to draft the Investigatory Powers Bill before presentation to the House in the Autumn. In light of today’s judgment and the specific recommendations made by Anderson and RUSI the Government we hope will listen to these and the other voices calling for a more transparent, more independent and more judicial approach to surveillance.

Big Brother Watch welcome today’s judgment and offer their congratulations to the claimants.