The UK Court of Appeal ruled what many thought since the beginning: The UK government is breaking the law when it grants public authorities, such as the police or tax collection agencies, the power to access mass surveillance data collected by intelligence agencies.
The ruling also confirmed that the supposed oversight the UK government set-up for the Snoopers' Charter (officially called the Investigatory Powers Act, or IPA) is not sufficient because there is no independent sign-off on giving public authorities access to the data.
DRIPA Ruled Unlawful
IPA, the controversial law that significantly ended-up expanding not just UK’s intelligence agencies’ surveillance powers, but also the surveillance and remote hacking powers of many other UK public authorities, including the police.
These powers would also be used without strong oversight and not just for “serious crimes,” as the Court of Appeal found out. Additionally, the UK government has started including in the “serious crimes” category even crimes that would normally be punished with only a few months in prison, presumably so it can use its mass surveillance capabilities against almost anyone the government suspects of any crime.
However, before IPA passed, the UK Parliament passed a temporary intelligence law called the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act (DRIPA), with many of the same issues. The UK courts were unsure whether or not previous rulings on surveillance and data retention issues applied to it, so they sent the case to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) for review.
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