High Court rules data act illegal

David Davis MPTwo MPs have won a case in the High Court in which they argued that the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act (DRIPA) was incompatible with human rights.

Today two judges said the act, which was rushed through parliament in July last year, is “inconsistent with EU law”.

Tom Watson and David Davis joined forces with Liberty to contest the act, which they described as having insufficient safeguards and was badly draft.

The government maintained at the time that DRIPA was urgently required and said today it would take the case to appeal.

Liberty said it and the MPs’ argument was that sections 1 and 2 of DRIPA are incompatible with the right for private life and communications and protection of personal data. These are covered under Articles 7 and 8 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights.

Liberty said that the act lets the Home Secretary order comms companies to keep data for 12 months, and in so doing catches the communications of everyone in the UK. Hundreds of public authorities have the right to access the data and half a million requests are granted every year.

James Welch, the legal director at Liberty, said: “Campaigners, MPs across the political spectrum, the Government’s own reviewer of terrorism legislation are all calling for judicial oversight and clearer safeguards. The High Court has now added its voice, ruling key provisions of DRIPA unlawful. Now is the time for the Home Secretary to commit publicly to surveillance conducted with proper respect for privacy, democracy and the rule of law – not plough on with more of the same.”

Davis is a Tory MP, and Watson a Labour MP.