Emergency legislation ensuring the power of police and security authorities to continue accessing phone and internet records is being pushed through Parliament, following a ruling by the European Court of Justice (ECJ).
The rarely used, urgent action is backed by all three major parties, which Prime Minister David Cameron said was needed to protect the public from “criminals and terrorists”, as the ECJ has removed the existing snooping powers.
However, campaigners have warned that it will result in an invasion of people’s privacy.
In a news conference, joined by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, Cameron defended the move stating that is about maintain existing laws, rather than the introduction of new “snooping” laws,
“I am simply not prepared to be a prime minister who has to address the people after a terrorist incident and explain that I could have done more to prevent it. This is about restoring two vital measures ensuring that our law enforcement and intelligence agencies maintain the right tools to keep us all safe”.
When the Data Retention and Investigation Powers Bill passes it will outline the legal obligation of businesses that provide telephone and internet services in the UK to retain communication data on their customers, such as logs of when calls were made and what numbers were dialled.
For the majority, the contents of such communication will not be monitored, however, the law does go further, allowing authorities to perform a “legal intercept”. Meaning that certain individuals could be identified for additional monitoring, including the ability to listen in to calls, dependent on the authority gaining a warrant.
The government claims it has been forced to act after the ECJ repealed an EU directive back in April that required phone and internet providers to retain communication data on the grounds that it infringed human rights.
Civil liberty campaigner and Conservative MP David Davis has accused the government of staging a “theatrical emergency”, he added that ministers have had “plenty of time” to respond to the ruling, rather than needing to rush complicated legislation through Parliament without proper scrutiny.
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Source: BBC News