Monday , 18 June 2018
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ORG is gonna let Theresa May hold a snap election, but first it wants clarity on snooping powers

RIGHTS AND PRESSURE OUTFIT the Open Rights Group ain’t just going to let Theresa May avoid dealing with Brexit and privacy by calling for a general election, and wants the Prime Minister to come clean on how it intends to balance the local Investigatory Powers Act (IPA) in the face of concern and criticism from the European Courts of Human Justice (CJEU).

The CJEU, and MP Tom Watson, have a lot of issues with the government and the IPA, and it all came to a head at the end of last year. The CJEU couldn’t say it, because of the nature of the organisation, but we get the impression that it thinks that the IPA and its impact on people is too much. It said that it’s indiscriminate grabs for data, and for the retention of that data, is serious and cannot really be justified.

“The fact that the data is retained without the users of electronic communications services being informed of the fact is likely to cause the persons concerned to feel that their private lives are the subject of constant surveillance. Consequently, only the objective of fighting serious crime is capable of justifying such interference,” it said.

“Such national legislation therefore exceeds the limits of what is strictly necessary and cannot be considered to be justified within a democratic society, as required by the directive, read in the light of the charter.”

Jim Killock, executive director at the Open Rights Group, welcomed the ruling of Europe’s highest court, and reminded the government that it has some work to do.

“The CJEU has sent a clear message to the UK Government: blanket surveillance of our communications is intrusive and unacceptable in a democracy,” he said.

“The Government knew this judgment was coming but Theresa May was determined to push through her snoopers’ charter regardless. The Government must act quickly to re-write the IPA or be prepared to go to court again.”

The government has sat on its hands, though, and while Theresa May has revealed that she has a throat chuckle laugh that makes her look like she is swallowing down a rat, she hasn’t come up with anything to cool down Killock and clan.

“The government still hasn’t stated how it will respond to a CJEU ruling, which calls into question the legal basis for the current data retention regime. The CJEU said that blanket data retention was not permissible and should only be used for serious crime. It also said that there needed to be independent authorisation for access to communications data,” he said today.

“The Government has yet to respond publicly to this ruling. It’s vital that the Government clarifies its position before the election.”

ORG is delivering a written reminder to the UK Secretary of State and Shadow Ministers on Monday. It hopes that the combined response from it and the courts will light a fire under the government. µ

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