Open letter from UK legal academic experts re DRIP

I’m one of the signatories to the letter below – not just a few, but many very serious legal academics, some of the most distinguished in the field.


 

Tuesday 15th July 2014

To all Members of Parliament,

Re: An open letter from UK internet law academic experts

On Thursday 10 July the Coalition Government (with support from the Opposition) published draft emergency legislation, the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Bill (“DRIP”). The Bill was posited as doing no more than extending the data retention powers already in force under the EU Data Retention Directive, which was recently ruled incompatible with European human rights law by the Grand Chamber of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) in the joined cases brought by Digital Rights Ireland (C-293/12) and Seitlinger and Others (C-594/12) handed down on 8 April 2014.

In introducing the Bill to Parliament, the Home Secretary framed the legislation as a response to the CJEU’s decision on data retention, and as essential to preserve current levels of access to communications data by law enforcement and security services. The government has maintained that the Bill does not contain new powers.

On our analysis, this position is false. In fact, the Bill proposes to extend investigatory powers considerably, increasing the British government’s capabilities to access both communications data and content. The Bill will increase surveillance powers by authorising the government to;

  • compel any person or company – including internet services and telecommunications companies – outside the United Kingdom to execute an interception warrant (Clause 4(2));
  • compel persons or companies outside the United Kingdom to execute an interception warrant relating to conduct outside of the UK (Clause 4(2));
  • compel any person or company outside the UK to do anything, including complying with technical requirements, to ensure that the person or company is able, on a continuing basis, to assist the UK with interception at any time (Clause 4(6)).
  • order any person or company outside the United Kingdom to obtain, retain and disclose communications data (Clause 4(8)); and
  • order any person or company outside the United Kingdom to obtain, retain and disclose communications data relating to conduct outside the UK (Clause 4(8)).

The legislation goes far beyond simply authorising data retention in the UK. In fact, DRIP attempts to extend the territorial reach of the British interception powers, expanding the UK’s ability to mandate the interception of communications content across the globe. It introduces powers that are not only completely novel in the United Kingdom, they are some of the first of their kind globally.

Moreover, since mass data retention by the UK falls within the scope of EU law, as it entails a derogation from the EU’s e-privacy Directive (Article 15, Directive 2002/58), the proposed Bill arguably breaches EU law to the extent that it falls within the scope of EU law, since such mass surveillance would still fall foul of the criteria set out by the Court of Justice of the EU in the Digital Rights and Seitlinger judgment.

Further, the bill incorporates a number of changes to interception whilst the purported urgency relates only to the striking down of the Data Retention Directive. Even if there was a real emergency relating to data retention, there is no apparent reason for this haste to be extended to the area of interception.

DRIP is far more than an administrative necessity; it is a serious expansion of the British surveillance state. We urge the British Government not to fast track this legislation and instead apply full and proper parliamentary scrutiny to ensure Parliamentarians are not mislead as to what powers this Bill truly contains.

Signed,

 

Dr Subhajit Basu, University of Leeds

Dr Paul Bernal, University of East Anglia

Professor Ian Brown, Oxford University

Ray Corrigan, The Open University

Professor Lilian Edwards, University of Strathclyde

Dr Andres Guadamuz, University of Sussex

Dr Theodore Konstadinides, University of Surrey

Professor Chris Marsden, University of Sussex

Dr Karen Mc Cullagh, University of East Anglia

Dr. Daithí Mac Síthigh, Newcastle University

Professor Viktor Mayer-Schönberger, Oxford University

Professor David Mead, University of East Anglia

Professor Andrew Murray, London School of Economics

Professor Steve Peers, University of Essex
Julia Powles, University of Cambridge

Judith Rauhofer, University of Edinburgh

Professor Burkhard Schafer, University of Edinburgh

Professor Lorna Woods, University of Essex

36 thoughts on “Open letter from UK legal academic experts re DRIP

  1. Worrying but … how exactly does the British parliament intend to extend the law of this nation to other nations across the globe, many of whom will likely respond with a single finger gesture. What drugs are these people on?

  2. Seems to me the British public ought to be seriously asking what kind of undue influence is currently being exerted upon Cameron, Clegg, May, & Co. by GCHQ, MI5, and MI6, — so, at any rate, it would certainly seem — and demanding, from investigative journalism if necessary, some real answers to that question.

  3. Reblogged this on Vox Political and commented:
    “The Home Secretary framed the legislation as a response to the CJEU’s decision on data retention, and as essential to preserve current levels of access to communications data by law enforcement and security services. The government has maintained that the Bill does not contain new powers.
    “On our analysis, this position is false. In fact, the Bill proposes to extend investigatory powers considerably, increasing the British government’s capabilities to access both communications data and content.”

  4. Reblogged this on stewilko's Blog and commented:
    It will be interesting to see if the Government takes note of this. Reflectivity, considering their previous policy decisions, specifically the bedroom tax and EU criticisms.

  5. ive emailed my isial mps on this but don’t hold out to much hope has labour will go with the tories on this id suspect jeff3

  6. What will happen now, I suspect, is that the the Government will be taken before the European Court and found to be in breach of Treaty and Cameron will, ‘decide’ that the EU is incompatible with the UK’s continued membership so will withdraw the UK from the EU and particularly the hated treaty on Human Rights

  7. Reblogged this on Bryan Hemming and commented:
    The powers of the state are already being abused enough.

    UK political parties are consistently covering up their own misdeeds while prying into the private lives of their voters on a scale never witnessed before, except in totalitarian regimes.

    They are not alone is not alone in this, and seem to be dancing to the tune of the unelected US secret services, who are spinning out of control, and appear to answer to no one, not even the US president.

    Along with the UK, US secret service agencies have been exposed for their mass, illegal spying on their own citizens and rest of the world on a daily basis. They don’t need more power but less.

    However much I would like to bury my head in the sand, there are times we all have to stand up and be counted. The internet is too valuable to allow them to steal it.

  8. Does this mean that those outside politics can now persue private and confidential information about our ‘lords and masters’ from the magic circle? maybe the truth that has been hidden about ‘upper class misbehaviour’ will become available at last

  9. Reblogged this on TheCritique Archives and commented:
    Do NOT let the Government fool you. The D.R.I.P. Bill most certainly *will* grant authorities new and excessive surveillance powers, once that flatly contradict human rights’ laws, including European Union laws.

    • Ah no. Sorry. This bill does not introduce global powers. British law does not apply to Indonesian companies in Indonesia.

      The British government can NOT compel people in other countries to do this or that.

      The British government might possibly have delusions about extra-territorial powers but it does not HAVE extra-territorial powers.

  10. Reblogged this on Beastrabban’s Weblog and commented:
    The letter reproduced here by Dr Bernal by legal academics shows that the government is actively trying to extend its powers of surveillance globally with the act, and how the act itself may contradict current EU legislation. This is a serious invasion of our privacy, and an extension of the powers of the secret state.

  11. […] Cerca de 20 organizações de direitos civis e digitais enviaram uma carta para os Comissários da União Europeia Michel Barnier e Cecilia Malmström, alertando-os sobre uma infração cometida pelo trâmite dado à DRIP.  Além disso, acadêmicos da área de “direito e internet” de diversas universidades (Leeds, Oxford, Sussex, Cambridge) assinaram uma carta aberta ao Parlamento, pedindo “mais debates sobre a legislação”. Segundo esses professores, a DRIP é mais que uma necessidade administrativa. Ela é a séria expans… […]

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