The UK government is
set to rush through a new law designed to allow enforcement and intelligence
agencies to continue to access phone and internet data in order to investigate
The Data Retention and
Investigation Powers Bill is being backed by all of the major parties and is
being passed due to two recent developments. The European Court of Justice
recently "struck down” regulations which forced ISPs and mobile companies to
retain customer data for up to 12 months. This means that telecoms companies
are now likely to begin deleting this data as they are no longer legally
required to retain it.
The second issue
surrounds calls for a clearer legal framework "to underpin their cooperation with
law enforcement and intelligence agencies to intercept what terrorists and
serious criminals are saying to each other.”
"It is the first duty
of government to protect our national security and to act quickly when that
security is compromised. As events in Iraq and Syria demonstrate, now is not
the time to be scaling back on our ability to keep our people safe. The ability
to access information about communications and intercept the communications of
dangerous individuals is essential to fight the threat from criminals and
terrorists targeting the UK,” Prime
Minister David Cameron said in a statement .
Nick Clegg said that
the new laws were not an "excuse for more power”, nor were they a part of a new
The bill will include
a clause which means that it will have to be looked at again in 2016 by the
next government and in the meantime, a review will be held on the Regulation of
Investigatory Powers Act in order for recommendations to be made on future
A senior diplomat will
also be appointed in order to undertake discussions with the US and internet companies to establish a new international data sharing agreement.
It’s very unusual for
laws to be passed as quickly as it’s proposed this should be and this is bound
to cause concern for privacy groups and for MPs, who some fear won’t have the
time to properly understand the bill.
Jim Killock, director
of the Open Rights Group said
that the government know that there’s "no legal basis” for forcing ISPs to
retain customer data and that it is using the threat of terrorism "as an excuse
for getting this law passed”.
"Not only will the proposed legislation infringe our right to
privacy, it will also set a dangerous precedent where the government simply
re-legislates every time it disagrees with a decision by the European Court of
Justice," he said.
Senior Labour MP Tom
Watson called the bill a "stich up” and accused party leaders of cutting a "secret
"There hasn't been a bill
published, we find out this morning when Parliament is on a one-line whip and
MPs are in their constituencies that next week they will railroad through
emergency legislation," he told BBC Radio 4's Today.
"If you are an MP, you
probably shouldn't bother turning up for work next week because what you think
doesn't really matter. They are ramping up the rhetoric on it but no one in
civic society has a chance to form a view on this or lobby their MP or talk to
them about it.
"I understand that
Labour's shadow cabinet is seeing it this morning. They've not had a chance to
think about it yet."