The UK High Court has declared that section one of the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act 2014 (the Act) is contrary to European Law.
The Act does not provide for independent court or judicial scrutiny to ensure that only data deemed "strictly necessary" is examined; and there is no definition of what constitutes "serious offences" in relation to which material can be investigated. This means that the general public would not have sufficient privacy safeguards making the Act incompatible with Article 8 of the European convention on Human Rights – the right to respect for private and family life.
The review is part of a judicial challenge brought by two MPs in respect of the emergency legislation introduced by the government in 2014. The Act requires internet and phone companies to keep their communications data for a year and regulates how police and intelligence agencies gain access to it.
The government will now have to pass fresh legislation that must come into effect before the end of March 2016.
Carly Nyst, legal director of Privacy International, said: “Currently, under British law, access to retained data by the police and local authorities is subject to no independent review or authorisation. Police and other authorities simply self-authorise their own access to individuals’ personal information.”