Two members of parliament are to attend the High Court today in an attempt to repeal the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act 2014, claiming it is illegal under the Human Rights Act's guarantee of a right to privacy.

Passed in July 2014 after just three days as an 'emergency' measure, the DRIP Act was introduced to make the government's ongoing data collection measures legal once more after a European Court of Justice ruling found them illegal. '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,' Tom Watson MP complained at the time, while Home Secretary Theresa May defended the rush by claiming 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.'

Following its passage, the Open Rights Group said it would sue the government to see the bill, now an Act of Parliament, invalidated. 'The European Convention of Human Rights, the European Charter of Fundamental Rights and our own Human Rights Act all exist to defend are rights and are where we will be able to challenge DRIP,' claimed Jim Killock. 'And that’s what we will do.'

Now, Wired has reported that Labour MP Watson and former Conservative minister David Davis MP are to be heard in the High Court arguing that the DRIP Act should be reversed as being incompatible with the European Convention of Human Rights and its assurance of a right to privacy. Even if the repeal is granted, however, it may be a hollow victory for the pair: in the Queen's Speech late last month, it was confirmed that the Conservative government planned to bring back the controversial Snooper's Charter which had been shot down during the previous Conservative-Liberal Coalition.
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October 14 2021 | 15:04