The divisive Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Bill (DRIP) has been passed by a landslide majority vote in the House of Commons, despite only a handful of MPs turning up for the debate.
Rushed through as an 'emergency' bill by a cross-party special interest group, DRIP is designed to address a European Court of Justice ruling made back in April that makes the government mandated data retention carried out by UK ISPs illegal. Under DRIP, modifications are made such that the retention - still ongoing despite the ECJ ruling - is made legal once more.
Its critics, however, claim it offers the government far broader powers, and has been pushed through during a cabinet reshuffle and under the claim of emergency requirements in order to stifle legitimate debate. Tom Watson MP described the bill, which was arranged in closed meetings by a cross-party interest group, as a 'stitch-up, stating last week that 'regardless of where you stand on the decision of the European Court of Justice, can you honestly say that you want a key decision about how your personal data is stored to be made by a stitch up behind closed doors and clouded in secrecy? None of your MPs have even read this legislation, let alone been able to scrutinise it.'
A debate on the bill took place in the House of Commons last night, but only a tiny fraction of the 500-plus members attended. Even so, its critics were able to tease some additional information out regarding the bill, including the fact that MPs and Lords will be given special exemptions that prevent their communications from being monitored under DRIP - exemptions that will not be granted to the proletariat.
Despite campaigns against it, the DRIP bill passed following claims by the Home Secretary Theresa May that 'if we delay we face the appalling prospect police operations will go dark, that trails will go cold, that terrorist plots will go undetected; if that happens, innocent lives may be lost.' 436 MPs voted for the accelerated 'emergency' timescale that would see the bill passed in a single day, while 49 voted for a lengthier debate; when the bill was read, it was passed with a government margin of 416 votes - meaning DRIP will now enter law as an official act.