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UK Government Faces Lawsuit Over Emergency Surveillance Bill 44

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the spilled-some-state-oppression dept.
judgecorp (778838) writes The British Government has had to produce an emergency surveillance Bill after the European Court of Justice ruled that European rules on retaining metadata were illegal. That Bill has now been passed by the House of Commons with almost no debate, and will become law if approved by the House of Lords. But the so-called DRIP (Data retention and Investigatory Powers) Bill could face a legal challenge: the Open Rights Group (ORG) is fundraising to bring a suit which would argue that blanket data retention is unlawful, so these emergency measures would be no more legal than the ones they replaced.
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UK Government Faces Lawsuit Over Emergency Surveillance Bill

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  • by fiannaFailMan (702447) on Friday July 18, 2014 @10:28PM (#47487413) Journal

    Some lawmakers were not so keen [forasach.ie] on the fast-tracking of this legislation. Checks and balances are there for a reason, it's a shame that they can be sidetracked when politically expedient.

    • by geekmux (1040042)

      Some lawmakers were not so keen [forasach.ie] on the fast-tracking of this legislation. Checks and balances are there for a reason, it's a shame that they can be sidetracked when politically expedient.

      Checks and Balances is such a joke these days that "LOL" should be an acceptable answer in school when students are tested on it. And this reminds me of how many members of Congress actually read the Obamacare document before voting people's lives away with it.

      Of course, we should expect nothing less from lawmakers who define themselves as above the laws they make for everyone else.

  • by mysidia (191772) on Friday July 18, 2014 @10:33PM (#47487421)

    New acts of parliament supercede previous laws regardless of source due to Parliamentary Supremecy, a fundamental pillar of English law.... Parliament is the supreme law-making body: its Acts are the highest source of English law.

    Unlike in other countries such as the US, there is no such thing as an unconstitutional law, or an act of parliament being "illegal" if properly passed, because there is no constitution in the UK, and an act of the parliament duly passed is supreme.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 18, 2014 @10:39PM (#47487441)

      there is no constitution in the UK

      False. It's just not a "written constitution" - IOW it is a body of tradition that everyone recognises, along with certain Acts which are regarded as more important than others (especially relevant when the law conflicts, as normally the later would just cancel out the earlier).

      Consider: If there were no constitution, what would be the legal basis for Parliamentary supremacy?

      • by TechyImmigrant (175943) on Friday July 18, 2014 @11:11PM (#47487519) Journal

        there is no constitution in the UK

        False. It's just not a "written constitution" - IOW it is a body of tradition that everyone recognises, along with certain Acts which are regarded as more important than others (especially relevant when the law conflicts, as normally the later would just cancel out the earlier).

        Consider: If there were no constitution, what would be the legal basis for Parliamentary supremacy?

        It's a system of threats and balances. The queen grants a constitutional basis to the parliament and the parliament grants continued existence to the queen. It's worked quite well since Cromwell. Much more stable than these new fangled republics.

      • by mysidia (191772) on Friday July 18, 2014 @11:12PM (#47487521)

        Consider: If there were no constitution, what would be the legal basis for Parliamentary supremacy?

        The legal basis being the monarch in a sovereign monarchy has absolute power; England is a sovereign monarchy, and the courts rely on this sovereignty to get to say anything.

        The monarchy was then forced to cede many of their God-given powers after the Glorious revolution in 1689; at which time parliament passed the Bill of Rights asserting Parliament to be supreme, even over the monarch, and the "truce" between Monarchy and Parliament, effectively forever moved the supreme source of law to Parliament by agreement.

        • by Xest (935314)

          So how do you think the data retention law was slapped down in the first place as being an overreach then genius?

          Of course some laws supersede others - the human rights act for example has resulted in many rulings that deem newer laws to be invalid.

          Parliament can still held to account by the judiciary and it is ultimately the judiciary that determine what happens when one law conflicts with another - there's no automatic "newest wins" as you originally claimed.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by NoKaOi (1415755)

      Unlike in other countries such as the US, there is no such thing as an unconstitutional law, or
      an act of parliament being "illegal" if properly passed

      There isn't in the US anymore either.

    • by whoever57 (658626) on Friday July 18, 2014 @11:13PM (#47487525) Journal

      Parliament is the supreme law-making body: its Acts are the highest source of English law.

      Unlike in other countries such as the US, there is no such thing as an unconstitutional law, or an act of parliament being "illegal" if properly passed, because there is no constitution in the UK, and an act of the parliament duly passed is supreme.

      No. It isn't. UK law must be in accordance with EU treaty requirements.

      I am beginning to suspect that they whole anti-EU campaign is not really an astroturfing (and use of the useful idiots) by the 1%ers to get rid of those pesky EU laws that are preventing unrestrained wealth acquisition by the rich at the expense of the poor.

      • by whoever57 (658626)
        ugh... s/is not really/is really/
      • by Mashiki (184564)

        I am beginning to suspect that they whole anti-EU campaign is not really an astroturfing (and use of the useful idiots) by the 1%ers to get rid of those pesky EU laws that are preventing unrestrained wealth acquisition by the rich at the expense of the poor.

        I might agree, if I didn't hear stupid things coming out of the EU parliament like the ability to turn on any countries printing press and just print money to fix debt issues. Or the variety of nuts that believe, much like in the US and Canada that our "national borders" are pesky things and we should just open them up far and wide and let everyone in. That one doesn't go over well, especially with legal immigrants.

    • by AHuxley (892839) on Saturday July 19, 2014 @12:01AM (#47487621) Homepage Journal
      The GCHQ has just the kind of legal history with this kind of project.
      The bulk data interest could always be seen as with the first Intelsat (international satellite telephone calls) efforts at Goonhilly Downs -CSO Morwenstow,/GCHQ Bude got every keyword of interest in the late 1960's. Staff asked why domestic calls and numbers where also been tracked after they where only tasked to international calls. The retaining domestic metadata idea went on with little internal legal comment.
      When the GCHQ/Intelsat news got into print in the early 1990's nothing was done. There was no legal protection decades ago. There was no protection once domestic collection tasks made it into the UK press. On into the 1990's the UK had new laws around the SIGMod funding initiative (sigint modernisation programme) to further clear up any domestic legal issues over domestic data sorting. The other legal magic is to pass telco work to SIS or other "agencies'". Then you have the vast US shared sites that can capture all but have even less to do with UK laws. More legal cover can flow form "ministerial level" support. If the political class is questioned they will never comment on past or ongoing security issues.
      ie law reform cannot get past secrecy laws or get political comment reducing all domestic legal protections to chilling living document status.
      One person might risk 20 years and another might have all changes dropped to get the story out of the media.
      The fun legal part for the UK is now to make US "parallel construction" very legal. They want to use what they intercept or decode in closed courts so the structures have to have a legal expert evidence trail. The UK is back to the days of National Criminal Intelligence Service, Government Telecommunications Advisory Centre, Government Technical Assistance Centre (GTAC ~ GCHQ Technical Assistance Centre) to try and help courts with decryption, domestic and global tracking.
      Will it work? Anyone with the cash can buy ex gov staff to sell them the super expensive advice: stay away from all electronic telco products.
    • by geekmux (1040042)

      ...Unlike in other countries such as the US, there is no such thing as an unconstitutional law, or an act of parliament being "illegal" if properly passed, because there is no constitution in the UK, and an act of the parliament duly passed is supreme.

      Unlike other countries such as the US, their government and representatives may actually follow the fundamental laws their predecessors (or founders) created.

      Not sure if you've noticed or not, but there's no such thing as an unconstitutional law in the US either. We've proven that over and over and over again.

    • I was going to ask if they had anything to protect them like the US constitution or more similarly due to history and the parliamentary system, the Canadian Charter and Rights and Freedoms in Canada (our constitution). In Canada, theoretically, all laws passed by any government must pass the Charter and not infringe on them. It's a shame, but no surprise, that our fellow citizens of the UK have no such protection from their own government. Not that the US or Canada is much better but at least there is some

  • by MrL0G1C (867445) on Saturday July 19, 2014 @01:58AM (#47487825) Journal

    The British Government has had to produce an emergency surveillance Bill

    No, it didn't have to, EU just told it not to do this and many organisations and people strongly protested against such a move.

    EU court just told UK that the data retention law is illegal - so what did they do? make another law to do exactly the same thing, WTF?

    • EU court just told UK that the data retention law is illegal - so what did they do? make another law to do exactly the same thing, WTF?

      Well, not quite. As far as I understand, the ECJ declared the snooping law unlawful because it was too broad, and outlined what restrictions would need to be placed on any replacement snooping law. So parliament is basically just passing a new law with those restrictions in it to satisfy the ECJ.

      Of course, that doesn't make the law right, but then neither was the original law.

      I've written a bit about it on my blog [nexusuk.org].

      • by Heed00 (1473203)

        So parliament is basically just passing a new law with those restrictions in it to satisfy the ECJ.

        That's completely false. The new law extends the powers over the previous law: https://www.openrightsgroup.or... [openrightsgroup.org]

        Furthermore:

        DRIP ignores the main part of the CJEU ruling - that blanket data retention severely interferes with the fundamental rights to respect for private life and to the protection of personal data. The government has claimed that other aspects of the Bill will strengthen oversight and transparency. For example, they claim it will restrict the number of public bodies that can request communications data. Yet this concession does not appear in DRIP or the secondary legislation that will implement it. There has been no acknowledgment of the legal requirement to preserve UK citizens’ right to privacy.

      • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

        They were criticised by the EU for not implementing the necessary changes. They just passed more or less what we had before, in the hope that by the time anyone has managed to sue them they will have yet another law ready.

  • When will the terrorists let up?!

  • The main three parties were all in favour of this. This wasn't just a stitch-up amongst the leadership with the MPs given a free choice - the party machinery was obviously forcing their MPs to vote in favour too. At this point I feel deeply embarassed to be British, as the way our elected representatives have acted makes the rubber-stamp parliaments in third world military dictatorships look better. I don't understand why even the Lib Dems were for this - electorally they have pretty much nothing to lose at

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