back to article Landmark EU ruling: Legality of UK's Investigatory Powers Act challenged

The legality of the UK's Investigatory Powers Act has been called into question by a landmark EU legal ruling this morning, which has restated that access to retained data must only be given in cases of serious crime. The landmark judgment [PDF] was handed down by the European Union's Court of Justice, setting a new precedent …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Yup...

    Lets hope this helps make this law reasonable...at least until some government fuckwit signs article 50.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Yup...

      You have to wait for the next Court decision to see if they are going to be allowed to do that.

      1. Mark 110 Silver badge

        Re: Yup...

        One of the things I like about the EU is they take a rreasonabe attitude to things. How this legislation got onn the statute book in the first place is such a vivid example of whats so broken about thhe UK system.

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      2. Yesnomaybe

        Re: Yup...

        Another reason our glorious leaders are so keen to get out of the EU. They can run their country any way they see fit then. Must be really irritating having the EU stopping them doing whatever they want.

        1. Jason 24

          Re: Yup...

          I seem to recall that most of our glorious leaders were all for staying in the EU...? Not sure what you mean by that comment.

          1. Yesnomaybe

            Re: Yup...

            "I seem to recall that most of our glorious leaders were all for staying in the EU...? Not sure what you mean by that comment."

            Have you heard about the recent power-struggle going on, where Brexit will not even get a vote in Parliament if the Tories get their way? It seems a lot of politicians have seen the opportunities Brexit will bring (them) and are now hell-bent on forcing it through. If they were lukewarm about it, why take it to the Supreme Court?

            1. graeme leggett Silver badge

              Re: Yup...

              "If they were lukewarm about it, why take it to the Supreme Court"

              Because if they royal prerogative is found to have limits, it might turn out those limits restrict more than just how Article 50 is instigated - the powers of ministers might be curtailed in other areas.

              that's one straightforward reason, there could be multiple devious political reasons as well

            2. Vic

              Re: Yup...

              If they were lukewarm about it, why take it to the Supreme Court?

              Because if they don't, someone will inevitably question the legitimacy of any vote in Parliament over the issue. And so the noise continues...

              By taking it to the Supreme Court, there will be one of two possible outcomes :-

              • The Supreme Court overturns the current verdict, and the Government gets primacy over Parliament
              • The Supreme Court affirms the current verdict, and no-one can complain that the Parliamentary vote is illegitmate

              Either of these outcomes is good for the Government.

              Vic.

            3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

              Re: Yup...

              "If they were lukewarm about it, why take it to the Supreme Court?"

              Oh, no, not again!

              Read the very first part of Article 50. Go on, Google it now and read it. Look, seeing as you probably CBA, here's the link: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/BRIE/2016/577971/EPRS_BRI(2016)577971_EN.pdf Now read it.

              Still CBA? Here's the relevant passage: 1. Any Member State may decide to withdraw from the Union in accordance with its own constitutional requirements.

              Now you tell me, what are the UK's constitutional requirements for this - and what's your authority for that?

              You see, it's unprecedented. HMG think Royal Prerogative provides the requirement. But we've spent over a third of a millennium - that's right, right back to the Civil Wars in the 1640s - establishing something called the sovereignty of Parliament. Some people think that means Parliament's decision is the constitutional requirement.

              The way to resolve this, the only way, is to get the decision of the courts. ATM the decision of the High Court is in favour of Parliament. HMG have appealed to the Supreme Court where it will be decided once and for all.

              Whilst my own view is in favour of Parliament making the decision I still think it right that the matter should have gone to the Supreme Court because we really do need a definitive decision.

              Consider, for instance, the situation if Article 50 was invoked irrespective of whether it was by Her Majesty May using the Royal Prerogative or Parliament passing an Act without a ruling. Brexit will inevitably cause expense - redundancies etc - for those corporations who have set up in the UK because it gave them an EU base. Suppose one or several of them were then to demand a Judicial Review on the basis that the constitutional requirement wasn't met. Can you imagine the chaos it would cause?

              Do you now see why it's important to get this settled now irrespective of whether you think Brexit is the best thing since sliced bread or a mistake that's going to cost swathes of its supporters their livelihoods?

          2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: Yup...

            "I seem to recall that most of our glorious leaders were all for staying in the EU...?"

            Although our current Glorious Leader, allegedly in favour, seemed to have kept her head well below the parapet when it came to campaigning. Turned out well for her, didn't it?

      3. macjules Silver badge

        Re: Yup...

        And even then Waxy May will neither accept the verdict, nor allow debate.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Yup...

          "And even then Waxy May will neither accept the verdict, nor allow debate."

          Think not? If the SC supports the HC and she tries to go against it she'll probably be ousted by a vote of confidence or she'll be in a legal tangle that will take years to unravel.

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        1. streaky Silver badge
          Boffin

          Re: Yup...

          ECHR is a Council of Europe body, UK will remain in the Council of Europe when it leaves the EU.

          People still making faulty assertions about what EU membership actually means, ECHR [the convention] is full of derogations that UK constitutional law doesn't allow for - they can do more whilst we're in that they would if we were out.

          I realise that 'reg commentards are generally quite pro EU but at least do a *little* research before you downvote.

        2. Just Enough

          Re: Yup...

          When the UK exits the EU (whatever the hell that actually means) then they will not, at a stroke, just declare all EU legislation null and void. There are EU regulations that no-one wants rid of, no matter what their political leanings. So no-one is going to suddenly declare that everything that was illegal yesterday, is now legal today. That would be chaos and a very bad idea.

          What is far more likely is that the EU regulations are adopted en-mass into the UK, and then we spend the next 40 years picking through them one by one, discarding the ones disliked by the whichever government is in power at the time.

          Yes, you may well be of the opinion that this will be a colossal waste of time and money. But that's Brexit for you.

    3. Doc Ock

      Re: Yup...

      >Lets hope this helps make this law reasonable...at least until some government fuckwit signs article 50.

      In or out, we the citizens of the UK should be fighting this one through the ballot box and not having to run elsewhere. It's our own fault this reached the Statute books for having political apathy.

      Next it will be compulsory DNA sampling and microchip implants.

      1. David Nash Silver badge

        Re: Yup...

        Fighting it through the ballot box? Easier said than done when the two major parties in England both supported it. And you are not going to get people to vote for a third party on the basis of one issue alone.

        1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

          Re: Yup...

          " And you are not going to get people to vote for a third party on the basis of one issue alone."

          It's getting to the point where quite a lot of people might be thinking that the third party is the only one talking sense on quite a number of issues, but admittedly they are only little things like Europe and human rights, so you're probably right.

        2. Matt Bryant Silver badge
          Stop

          Re: David Nash Re: Yup...

          ".... And you are not going to get people to vote for a third party on the basis of one issue alone." Shush! Don't disincentivise the poor bugger, he was probably quite happy to go waste his vote, only now you've pointed out the reality he's probably going to do something silly instead, like vote Green. Best to leave the ignorant to wallow in the dark.

      2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Yup...

        "In or out, we the citizens of the UK should be fighting this one through the ballot box"

        The only reason Labour opposed this is because it's a Tory Bill. When Labour were last in power they put forward a remarkably similar Bill and the Tories opposed it. The Tories also tried during the coalition but the LibDems stymied them that time. Oddly, the people most likely to keep the rights and privacy of the UK citizen protected are the very people the citizens have voted against, ie the EU and LibDems.

        The Ballot Box has spoken and it's not nice.

        1. Yesnomaybe

          Re: Yup...

          "Do you now see why it's important to get this settled now irrespective of whether you think Brexit is the best thing since sliced bread or a mistake that's going to cost swathes of its supporters their livelihoods?"

          Yeah. Fair enough.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Yup...

          "The Ballot Box has spoken and it's not nice."

          unfortunately a large number of people seem to form their pre-ballot opinions based on what the Fail, the Sexpress, the Grauniad and the broken Mirror tell them, rather than assessing issues themselves.

    4. Graham Marsden
      Unhappy

      Enjoy it while you can... Re: Yup...

      > Lets hope this helps make this law reasonable...at least until some government fuckwit signs article 50.

      Or until Theresa May gets her "British Bill of the Rights that We Say You're Allowed to have, Provided You're Someone We Like"... :(

  2. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge

    This is great news...

    I was unfortunately unaware that any major challenge to this foul and rank piece of legislation was still underway. Great to see that it is still being fought on our behalf as most times I feel powerless to help with the cause.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: This is great news...

      I'm certainly not complaining about El Reg here - but it does seem that news relating to this law - its passing, its progression, this legal challenge - has been almost non-existent in the UK media.

      1. Franco Silver badge

        Re: This is great news...

        I don't know if it is lack of understanding or deliberate subversion of the content of the bill, along with timing it to get lost in the shuffle of the Trump debacle and other news, but El Reg is one of very few news sources covering this at all.

        It was mentioned briefly on The Last Leg on Channel 4 when it gained Royal approval. Last Week Tonight with John Oliver can usually be relied upon to cover stuff like this, but it's currently off air until next year.

        1. EnviableOne Bronze badge

          Re: This is great news...

          Trevor noah covered it on the Daily show though

        2. Roland6 Silver badge

          Re: This is great news...

          re: It was mentioned briefly on The Last Leg on Channel 4 when it gained Royal approval.

          You are confusing the: Data Retention and Investigatory Powers (DRIP) Act 2014, which this CJEU case was about and the Investigatory Powers (IP) Act 2016 - that supercedes it, which recently gained royal assent and was the Act mentioned on The Last Leg.

          Interestingly, the 2014 Act contained a sunset clause which means it will be automatically repealed on 31 December 2016, so the government has to do nothing with this specific act to comply with the judgement. However, the real question is what is the government going to do to bring the IP 2016 Act into compliance...

      2. alain williams Silver badge

        Re: This is great news...

        news relating to this law has been almost non-existent in the UK media.

        Which speaks volumes about ''independent'' our media really is.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: This is great news...

          'Which speaks volumes about ''independent'' our media really is.'

          Nothing to do with that. No celebrities are involved so the media couldn't care less. For them it's a non-event.

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: This is great news...

            "Nothing to do with that. No celebrities are involved so the media couldn't care less. For them it's a non-event."

            ...until the first journalist gets caught up in a trawl.

            1. Bronek Kozicki Silver badge

              Re: This is great news...

              Frankly, I do not think the lack of reporting in "mainstream media" has anything to do with agendas etc. I think the reason is more prosaic : the right to privacy does not rank very high in media. It is perceived as something too technical or too mundane to talk about.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: This is great news...

          It is amazing. I am in China and I read it in the news here.

          Presumably this means the UK media are more censored than media in the PRC.

      3. Ogi

        Re: This is great news...

        Indeed, I had no idea anyone challenged it at all. The way the UK media reported it, it was tabled, the little people moaned and protested, however the plebs are unimportant and can just be ignored, so it was passed. Then the Queen gave her approval and that was it. Welcome to 1984.

        Still, once they have the data, do you think a ruling from the EU is going to stop them using it for all and sundry? The ruling only helps us if they actually follow it, and they are not exactly going to enforce the rule against themselves. It would be up to individuals to challenge the legality of the data used against them by the government, which I imagine would be nothing more than a small inconvenience to the state.

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            1. Daniel von Asmuth Bronze badge
              Headmaster

              Re: This is great news...

              "The ECJ is the highest court in the European Union in matters of European Union law."

              Those who dwelleth in the UK are subject to the laws passed by Her Majesty and her Parliament...

              The EU is not some Über-Empire, but a club that has 27 (+ the UK) sovereign nations for members.

              1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

                Re: This is great news...

                "Those who dwelleth in the UK are subject to the laws passed by Her Majesty and her Parliament..."

                Indeed, but I think you will find that there is an Act of the UK parliament, signed off by Lizibet, that makes the ECJ the highest court in this sort of matter.

        2. rtfazeberdee

          Re: This is great news...

          What papers do you read? the broadsheets have reported on this when it started, i wouldn;t expect the tabloids to report on it as its too complicated a subject for its readers who wouldn;t care anyway unless a celeb is involved

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: This is great news...

        @Shemmie - I wouldn't take the absence of anything from the UK press as unusual... all sorts of things can be revealed by checking the non-UK press (and Private Eye) as there can be news and/or parliamentary reporting blackouts in force here where people are simply not told what is going on. e.g. MI6 running private troops in wars the UK are currently involved in that don't get a mention here and that the general public generally know nothing about.

        As for this legal challenge, it's about time. God help us if/when we ever exit Europe and lose these protections - not that we should need protecting from our own damn government!

        1. JohnMurray

          Re: This is great news...

          My assumption has always been that I (we) need more protection from the UK government than from foreign governments. Especially since the UK government seems to think it has a lot to fear from 60 million people deciding to head to Westminster armed with bad attitudes and bricks. Are there 650 vacant lamp-posts around Westminster?

      5. veti Silver badge

        Re: This is great news...

        Non-existent? As I type, it features prominently on the UK pages of the BBC, Guardian, and The Times. Mainstream enough for you?

  3. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

    Appropriate?

    Interesting that the Govt are objecting to the decision, as they already have appropriate limitations and safeguards in place.

    To which I answer:

    "Welsh Ambulance NHS Trust"

    "Food Standards Scotland"

    Two of the many, many non-security and police agencies who can browse all our data on the say-so of a lowly manager.

    1. Richard 81

      Re: Appropriate?

      But if Food Standards Scotland aren't able to access your browser history on a whim, the terrorist have already won.

    2. TitterYeNot
      Coat

      Re: Appropriate?

      "To which I answer:

      Food Standards Scotland"

      I for one welcome this announcement with a happy heart.

      If the Food Standards Scotland have untrammelled access to our internet records, they may uncover my evil plans to take over the country with my secret weapon-of-mass-destruction - the deep fried Black Pudding - with my fearless assassins running joyfully to their martyrdom screaming the words of the faithful, 'Eeee By Ecky Thump!'

      <Coughs>

      No, not likely is it...

      1. Franco Silver badge

        Re: Appropriate?

        I thought Food Standards Scotland's remit was to have everything deep fried?

        (I'm allowed to say that, I am Scottish)

      2. Mycho Silver badge

        Re: No, not likely is it...

        It's not at all likely that Food Standards Scotland will use this data to counter a threat to the country. Far more likely one of their hundred-odd random employees will use it to abuse the girl who turned him down in the pub last week.

        You'll remember the case of former Miss Bikini World contestant Renee Eaves who got her records pulled a thousand times by horny cops? Now Food Standards Scotland can do the same.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Appropriate?

      I need to be careful here because I am in a position on the fringes of this subject.

      But:

      "Two of the many, many non-security and police agencies who can browse all our data on the say-so of a lowly manager."

      This is not the worst of it, because you've only been shown the list of official government agencies that have access to the collected data. What you're not being shown is the full list including all the various service providers and private partners of those agencies that will have access to your data.

      For example: the Department of Work and Pensions has access to your data, so their trusted providers and selected partners do to. That means ATOS has access to your browser history.

      Chew that over for a few minutes.

      1. EnviableOne Bronze badge

        Re: Appropriate?

        Dont forget CAPITA and G4S those bastions of decency and security

        along with Google Deep Mind

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Appropriate?

        "For example: the Department of Work and Pensions has access to your data, so their trusted providers and selected partners do to. That means ATOS has access to your browser history."

        This is the crux of the issue for me: it's one thing the security services having untrammeled access to this material, they are some of the most highly vetted people in the country. The progress towards a police state isn't so much seen in the escalating powers of the police, but the huge magnification of the powers of every type of bureaucrat of almost every level. It leads to a diseased, East Germany type situation where a huge number of people are involved in regulating and monitoring everybody else.

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        2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Appropriate?

          "it's one thing the security services having untrammeled access to this material, they are some of the most highly vetted people in the country. "

          And there are still instances of their abusing it.

          1. Mycho Silver badge

            Re: Appropriate?

            Interesting timing for this conversation, since while it's been going on a policewoman from the Sexual Offences Exploitation and Child Abuse Command in the Metropolitan Police has been jailed for sexually abusing a rape victim she had been assigned to help.

            (for reference just google Charlotte Peters Metropolitan Police)

  4. Anonymous Blowhard

    "The ruling results partly from a legal challenge against DRIPA filed by two MPs, David Davis and Tom Watson, though Davis subsequently exited the complaint against the government following his appointment as the government's minister for exiting the EU."

    Good to see that David Davis is unwavering in his anti-snooping stance, and can't be bought off by a cabinet position...

    1. Warm Braw Silver badge

      David Davis ... can't be bought off by a cabinet position

      A position where, no doubt, he is fighting to ensure that we continue to enjoy the protections afforded by the ECJ...

    2. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      It's OK, his hypocrisy is only temporary.

      I'm sure that once the Brexshit hits the fan and David Davis returns to the back benches he will rediscover his passion for personal privacy.

    3. DavCrav Silver badge

      "Good to see that David Davis is unwavering in his anti-snooping stance, and can't be bought off by a cabinet position..."

      Now I hate David Davis as much as the next man, but in this case it's because of collective ministerial responsibility I would guess. It's unseemly having part of the Executive suing the Executive for something.

  5. Richard 81

    But I thought we "took back control"

    I wonder what people who voted leave think of the snooper's charter anyway?

    1. Hollerithevo Silver badge

      Re: But I thought we "took back control"

      This is exactly the freedom the Leavers voted to have! The freedom to be snooped on by a right royal British Government without any interference by those garlicky foreign johnnies.

    2. Roger Varley

      Re: But I thought we "took back control"

      >> I wonder what people who voted leave think of the snooper's charter anyway?

      that it's a piece of paper owned by a dancing beagle?

    3. SVV Silver badge

      Re: But I thought we "took back control"

      Oh the government will take back control all right. It'll be them doing the controlling though, not us.

      I doubt many of the voters know anything about it, let alone have an opinion.

      However the huge number of people who will have access to the data is what's really going to derail this. What's the betting on how soon someone at one of these agencies gets annoyed by their boss or colleague and decides to investigate their browsing activities? And how long before they're shared round the office or on social media? Then the whole world can have a snoop and a damn good laugh at the individuals and the foolishness of a country that allowed this to happen.

      1. Dr Dan Holdsworth Silver badge

        Re: But I thought we "took back control"

        The other problem with allowing all manner of agencies to access the data is that these agencies are certain not to have anywhere near the levels of data security that the police currently have. The police know all about not letting secret information leak out of their systems, and their copies of the ICRs will be on machines physically separate from the open internet (or so one would hope, anyway).

        A poxy ambulance trust or a food standards agency won't have that level of data security because frankly it will never have needed such security before, and the internal networking will be set up as cheaply as possible. Given that the equipment is likely to be running unpatched and rather antique versions of Windows, and that the staff are not going to be trained to the same levels of paranoia that police are trained, it is pretty much certain that these agencies' PC will be riddled with all manner of malware.

        One thing malware does is looks for "interesting" data, and what could be more interesting than a huge amount of internet connection record data?

        This level of retention, with this level of sharing, is an accident waiting to happen. It is also a gold-mine for VPN operators.

        1. Doctor Tarr

          Re: But I thought we "took back control"

          Government Thinking.....

          Nobody without anything to hide uses a VPN.

          VPN = Guilty

          If you are hiding behind a VPN then you must be carrying out a nefarious act.

          1. David Nash Silver badge

            Re: But I thought we "took back control"

            Does watching iplayer when on holiday count as nefarious?

        2. Cynical Observer
          Coffee/keyboard

          Re: But I thought we "took back control"

          @Dr Dan

          these agencies are certain not to have anywhere near the levels of data security that the police currently have. The police know all about not letting secret information leak out of their systems, and their copies of the ICRs will be on machines physically separate from the open internet

          You owe me a new keyboard sir.

          This would be the same police that maintains photo databases which include innocent people - in breach of UK law, the same police that a Chief constable would be warranted in "Exceeding the letter of the law in some instances"

        3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: But I thought we "took back control"

          "their copies of the ICRs will be on machines physically separate from the open internet (or so one would hope, anyway)"

          I admire your optimism.

    4. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: But I thought we "took back control"

      "I wonder what people who voted leave think of the snooper's charter anyway?"

      If they've heard of it at all it will be explained to them in terms of immigrants and the terrible EU removing HMG's control over spying on its own citizens.

    5. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

      Re: But I thought we "took back control" @Richard

      This original law was drafted before the referendum, when the government thought that they would remain in Europe, so they should have expected to have this type of battle on their hands.

      As such, it's got sod all to do with the result of the referendum, and much more to do with the fact that Home Secretaries (and I include Ms. May in this category) think that they have valid reason to ride roughshod over the privacy of Her Majesties subjects. This is true what ever political colour they have been. Remember Wacky Jackie?

    6. nkuk

      Re: But I thought we "took back control"

      A binary choice doesn't necessarily have a binary outcome. Just because someone voted to Leave doesn't mean they have to agree with all the possible ramifications of that decision. Of course there will be pros and cons.

    7. David Pollard

      Re: But I thought we "took back control"

      "I wonder what people who voted leave think of the snooper's charter anyway?"

      At least some of them have been doing what they can to oppose it. Though I wish I could have done more, I myself been opposing excessive use of DNA profiling and other forms of snoopery for a couple of decades.

    8. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

      Re: But I thought we "took back control"

      "I wonder what people who voted leave think of the snooper's charter anyway?"

      He, he! Good one!

  6. Anonymous Noel Coward
    Big Brother

    Won't matter.

    The UK doesn't like listening to what "Johnny Foreigner" has to tell them.

  7. Moosh

    I don't regret voting in favour of brexit. Not one bit.

    What I do regret is that we only have authoritarian capitalists and lackadaisical socialists to choose from as far as our own government is concerned.

    1. Warm Braw Silver badge

      we only have authoritarian capitalists and lackadaisical socialists to choose from

      That's precisely why I voted to remain: since the UK lacks an effective constitution (i.e. one that can't easily be overturned on a whim by an opportunist government), EU membership, whatever its other faults, is the only guarantee we have of civil rights and it is precisely that guarantee that many Brexit voters were seeking to remove in the guise of "repatriating" legislative authority.

      1. Doctor Tarr

        Second House

        @Warm Brew

        My position is exactly the same. We now need to ensure that we have a very strong second house to prevent this type of ill thought and opportunist legislation being pushed through government (won't hold my breath).

        How about it's just the brexiters who have to hand over all their emails, as they see no need for actual human rights.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @moosh

      So, you saw the types of government we've had over the past 20+ years and thought it would be a good idea to give them full power. It's no surprise that you voted for and are happy to leave the EU. This is typical of the idiocy of the average brexit voter.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "[...] we only have authoritarian capitalists and lackadaisical socialists to choose from [...]"

      we only have authoritarian capitalists and authoritarian socialists to choose from

      FTFY

      Remember David Blunkett wanting everyone's PCs subject to random searches by the police? Paraphrasing from memory one of his sound-bites: "People with nothing to hide will have nothing to fear from the outcome of a police investigation"

  8. Tinslave_the_Barelegged Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    Snooping means snooping

    What is it about the Home Secretary position that radicalises its incumbents?

    1. Franco Silver badge

      Re: Snooping means snooping

      I think Baron Acton had the answer for that one

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Dalberg-Acton,_1st_Baron_Acton

      To be fair, when the bill was first rejected MPs did a "radical" revision of it, they made themselves exempt.

  9. Doc Ock
    Big Brother

    Why didn't Labour oppose the Snoopers Charter ?

    Good piece in The Graundian about it from Brian Paddock* written in October:

    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/oct/19/investigatory-powers-bill-snoopers-charter-lib-dem-labour

    * Former Met Deputy Assistant Commissioner, now Lib Dem Peer.

    Nothing to hide and plenty to fear.

  10. Andy 73

    Nothing to do with brexit/remaining

    ... much more to do with the lack of political will to fight this. Both Labour and Conservative have majority factions who believe that more information equals safer citizens. Both parties put significant store by the large corporate groups who lobby to encourage such beliefs. Those innocent and largely technically naive MPs who get elected get told by these groups that "trust us, it's for the best". So rather than prattling on about the EU, we should be asking why there is not serious opposition to this from within the UK?

    I have a small collection of letters from MPs who, when questioned about these matters tell me that they have 'expert advice' that strangely contradicts my decades of direct experience in IT. I'm not the one who delivers projects 200% over budget and years behind schedule, with a long list of unintended consequences.

    As it is, I suspect that the only reason the EU has put a helpful spanner in the works is that it is too fractured to have agreed its own charter on such matters. Remember, it took 18 years for them to get to grips with mobile phones. It's great that internal negotiations delay some legislation, but it's also the case that once such legislation is agreed upon, it is very much set in stone. No amount of local opposition will change things then.

    1. Jess

      Re: Nothing to do with brexit/remaining

      If we get bad results due to removing the safeguards, it's the fault of the things the safeguards protected us from?

      1. Andy 73

        Re: Nothing to do with brexit/remaining

        "If we get bad results due to removing the safeguards, it's the fault of the things the safeguards protected us from?"

        Um, no. This legislation should never had reached the safeguards in the first place. We shouldn't rely on some magic third party to save us, because (whatever your political beliefs) sometimes it won't.

        I'm not blaming the safeguards, just observing that the opposition has been raised by a cross-party group that is very much in the minority when it comes to mainstream UK political attitudes to these things. I'm also observing that those who are keen to make a link to brexit are missing the point (just as you are) that this is first and foremost a screw up of our own making.

        If you want to link this to Brexit, then perhaps you should be asking the more constructive question of what this country is going to do to ensure safeguards are in place when we can no-longer hope the EU will save us? It's the same question as why there weren't sufficient safeguards in our current political line up to leave opposition to two 'maverick' MPs.

        1. Toltec

          Re: Nothing to do with brexit/remaining

          "We shouldn't rely on some magic third party to save us, because (whatever your political beliefs) sometimes it won't."

          I do wonder where the idea that all of our politicians are self serving idiots, but European ones are trustworthy comes from? The only difference seems to be that we have a notional power to change ours. In some respects how difficult and punitive the EU makes it for us to leave will tell me if we are correct in doing so.

          In this article http://www.theregister.co.uk/2016/11/29/investigatory_powers_act_2016/ it is mentioned that this was also being challenged in our courts, is it just that the EUCoJ has come to a decision first?

          1. John H Woods Silver badge

            Re: Nothing to do with brexit/remaining

            "I do wonder where the idea that all of our politicians are self serving idiots, but European ones are trustworthy comes from? The only difference seems to be that we have a notional power to change ours." -- Toltec

            MEPs are elected in a proportional manner (the actual method varies slightly) and UK MPs are not (ironically why UKIP had so many MEPs and only 1 MP). In fact fewer than 50% of UK voters live somewhere where their general election vote could reasonably be expected to make a difference.

            Once you take the FPTP system and add at least the general perception that we have more of a "revolving door" culture; more powerful lobbyists; print media that is so partisan it must actively be courted by any politicians or party hoping for success, then you have a real "them and us" issue. Not helped by the courts deciding, for instance, that an MP's 50k expenses fraud merely has to be paid back whilst a constituents' 50k benefit fraud results in a custodial sentence.

            Perhaps the MEPs are just as bad (Surely we agree that at least one of them is!) but perhaps their misdeeds and their self-serving actions are not so clearly apparent.

          2. Warm Braw Silver badge

            Re: Nothing to do with brexit/remaining

            all of our politicians are self serving idiots, but European ones are trustworthy

            Most European politicians have some sort of constitutional limit on their powers, ours largely don't. Even that of course hasn't stopped Polish and Hungarian governments from seeking to weaken their constitutional protections and it's only the threat of EU action that's stopping them going further. Having neutral referees is a key protection for all "Europeans" who are not some homogeneous national group, but citizens of individual countries with common interests and equally dubious politicians.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Nothing to do with brexit/remaining

          "We shouldn't rely on some magic third party to save us, because (whatever your political beliefs) sometimes it won't."

          The coalition LibDems clipped the Government's wings on this issue. The electorate then chose to punish the LibDems for not being able to stop more of the Tory cuts - thus giving the Tories a free rein in this Parliament.

  11. Kay Burley ate my hamster

    Idiots and function creep

    Two words, troll trace.

  12. lglethal Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Simple solution...

    Could the hackers please expose Prince Phillip's browsing habits as the very first set of data that gets released? Follow that up with the other royals. I imagine Lizzie might begin regretting signing off on the Charter at that point.

    Considering she is supposed to be the ultimate arbiter, and you cant trust the UK government to do it right, maybe it's about time she stood up and did her job!

    1. alain williams Silver badge

      Re: Simple solution...

      Do remember that the only group who's browsing habits need a court order before they are handed over are the MP's themselves. I wonder what they have got to hide that we do not ?

      1. Gordon861

        Re: Simple solution...

        I thought MPs were just exempt from the act so their data wouldn't be stored.

    2. Ken Smith
      Devil

      Re: Simple solution...

      I'm sure a few journo's will be after such a leak from members of HMG and the Royal family to discredit the whole exercise.

  13. BenR

    And you are not going to get people to vote for a third party on the basis of one issue alone.

    UKIP called and want their manifesto back...

  14. AdamG57

    IoT

    Do remember that it is all browsing through your IP address that is stored as yours... Who knows what sites your refrigerator or toaster is looking at!

    Mine with the smart vibrator!

  15. scrubber

    It's funny that...

    When the little people break the law there is some element of punishment.

  16. TheTick

    Pros and Cons

    I see a lot of "hah you STUPID Brexiteers!" in these comments, with lots of upvotes.

    The reasonable people (the vast majority) who voted both leave and remain are fully aware that the EU decision was a balance of pros and cons and most people had slightly different weightings for these to make their decision.

    This is clearly a pro for the EU and even as a proud and happy Brexiteer I cheer for this ruling.

    Vapid point-scoring in comments isn't going to change the result, or change people's mind, or make people think better of you.

    1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: Pros and Cons

      "Vapid point-scoring in comments isn't going to change the result, or change people's mind, or make people think better of you."

      I'd expect such an attitude from a Brexiteer.

      1. TheTick

        Re: Pros and Cons

        Oh you beast!

  17. Gordon861

    Screensaver Browsing

    What we need is a small program that visits random websites when your screensaver is running, similar to the old one that used to help with SETI.

    If this database can be filled with so much crap data and junk it will be totally useless to anyone trying to access your data.

    1. PapaD

      Re: Screensaver Browsing

      You mean like this one?

      https://cs.nyu.edu/trackmenot/

    2. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

      Re: Screensaver Browsing

      'Fraid not. Whether your search history contains 10 domains or 10,000 their clever search algorithms will still spot that one time you 'accidentally' visited www.teen-isis-suicide-bombers-on-the-job.com

      Just get a VPN - but not one based in the UK.

      1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

        Re: Screensaver Browsing

        The chap who runs Andrews & Arnold once posted a blog entry that included a very small icon. The small icon in question was the site icon for one of the larger freebie porn sites. At the end of his posting he casually informed his readership that they were all now "users of a porn site" as far as Her Majesty's Government were concerned.

        Perhaps if more sites did this, we could have some impact.

    3. Bernard M. Orwell Silver badge

      Re: Screensaver Browsing

      "What we need is a small program that visits random websites... ...If this database can be filled with so much crap data and junk it will be totally useless to anyone trying to access your data."

      Take a deep breath and run this.

      http://ruinmysearchhistory.com/

      1. Bronek Kozicki Silver badge

        Re: Screensaver Browsing

        Oh wow, some of these searches were very "interesting". I wonder what my ISP (A&A) will make with ICR requests it is bound to receive soon :D

  18. JimmyPage Silver badge
    FAIL

    We could leave the EU, of course ...

    but the point is that with an ECJ ruling like this, no EU country would ever do business with a non-EU UK anyway.

    And there's nothing the UK can do about it - the EU27 countries will act as one, so no chance for any sneaky behind the scenes deals (a la Nissan).

  19. NonSSL-Login
    Big Brother

    Our government is so keen to implement it's Orwellian spying on citizens that it won't let the ECJ ruling stop it.

    200k signatures on government petition website calling for this to be repealed too and the debating committee that deals with getting petitions with 100k signatures debated in parliament chose...not to put it forward to be debated.

    David Davis and Tom Watson must have been the only squeeky clean ones who were not afraid of their web history being pulled up by GCHQ so were willing to speak out about it. The chilling effect of knowing saying the wrong thing at the wrong time to the wrong person could lead to all your communications being looked up by PC Plod or the...Foods standard agency...is scary.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    There's something ironic about a pro-brexiter running to the EU whenever something goes wrong...

  21. Orwell

    Don't forget this legislation is the UK government trying to legalise what it already does. If they fail in the courts it won't make any difference to the situation as it stands. Be careful with your metadata!

    1. John H Woods Silver badge

      "Don't forget this legislation is the UK government trying to legalise what it already does"

      No. Sure, GCHQ do whatever they do. But the requirement for ISPs to store all history, and the requirement for them to pass it to any number of other bureaucrats (and, given outsourcing, to any number of private companies) without any reasonable form of oversight --- is all absolutely brand new.

      1. MonkeyCee Silver badge

        Indeed

        GCHQ may well do what they like, but they have been shown to have been breaking the (very small) amount of legal restrictions that where placed on them, and deliberately hiding the evidence from the court that is supposed to have oversight of them.

        So passing the law to retroactively make ~15 years of illegal surveillance legal, and the retention of data also legal was pretty much the goal. It's why the same legislation has been making the rounds for a decade or so now.

  22. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
    Big Brother

    Well

    At least it means only Mi5/special branch/anti-terrorist police /anti peado police will get to look at my browsing history if someone deems I'm of a sufficent risk

    Thank gawd the food standards agency wont be able to look for the abominations I've created in my kitchen after looking at "spicey_recipes.co.uk"......

    Although the welsh farming agency may still be interested..... baaaaaaaaaaaaa

    1. scrubber

      Re: Well

      When I searched for "large hot sausage" it was the food standards agency that got me arrested.

  23. Leeroy Bronze badge

    Ummmmm No

    “Most of us can accept that our privacy may occasionally be compromised in the interests of keeping us safe".

    Not me thanks I'm sure I will be fine and I doubt my browsing history, where I shop, what I buy, where I withdraw cash or my views on government policy has anything at all to do with the chance of me getting blown up by a bad person.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "This dreadful piece of legislation will cost millions to implement and unless the Government reconsider, they will inevitably face further embarrassment in the courts,"

    Weren't the ISPs reckoning the cost nearer to GBP 2bn.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    GCHQ == STASI

    The article and most of the comments all assume that GCHQ has been doing less than is allowed under the snoopers charter.

    Since there is no public description of detailed practices in Cheltenham (why?), this assumption is naive at best. GCHQ has been invading the private affairs of 60 million UK citizens (and others) for years now. Here's a quote from the ECJ findings:

    "The fact that the data is retained without the users of electronic communications services being informed of the fact is likely to cause the persons concerned to feel that their private lives are the subject of constant surveillance. Consequently, only the objective of fighting serious crime is capable of justifying such interference."

    So the regime that implemented a new STASI in Cheltenham is illegal -- at least until the UK gets out from under the ECJ. If you are not engaging in or planning "serious crime", then GCHQ needs to stop monitoring your affairs, according to the ECJ. I'll believe that when I see proof that the STASI is being downsized!!

  26. Baldy50

    Enjoyed your????

    Obfsproxy! When they get clued up, maybe never?

  27. David Pollard

    How times have changed

    Here is an excerpt from a 'Report from the Select Committee on the Police of the Metropolis', 1822. It puts the argument against snooping rather well.

    “It is difficult to reconcile an effective system of police with that perfect freedom of action and exemption from interference which are the great privileges and blessings of society in this country; and Your Committee think that the forfeiture or curtailment of such advantages would be too great a sacrifice for improvements in police, or facilities in detection of crime, however desirable in themselves if abstractedly considered.”

  28. Potemkine Silver badge

    Don't worry, dear British Friends

    Once the Brexit done, you'll be able to have the Orwellian dictatorship of your own your Beloved Leaders want to impose to 'protect' you.

  29. carrynot

    Carrynot

    If the data is used to prevent a crime then it wasn't serious, only potentially serious. If is used to investigate after, it is too late.

    1. DrM

      Re: Carrynot

      Not wanting to prevent potentially serious crimes? No point in stopping a truck bomber because he's only a potential crime?

  30. DrM
    FAIL

    Nimrods

    Ah, so these same Nimrods let an illegal immigrant from Tunisia with terrorist ties, wanting to buy a gun, let him go so he could ram that market in Germany? Yeah, they need more information! They do so well with it.

  31. rmstock

    a decent reason ...

    Want to do a gender change or a regime change in some Middle East country : You need a decent reason, should require legal proceedings and acts of probation. The materials and means for completing, for gender change hormone medication and for regime change weaponry and mercenaries, should be made criminal offenses when obtained without legal consent. In the absence of legal consent the acts of gender change and regime change without the knowledge or awareness of targeted persons and regimes, should be labeled high crimes.

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