Open Rights Group Plots Lawsuit Over DRIP

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelance and long standing contributor to TechWeek Europe

See you in court! Privacy group to sue the Government over the controversial DRIP surveillance act

The controversial Data Retention and Investigatory Powers (DRIP) act that is being rushed into British law is to face a legal challenge:  the Open Rights Group (ORG) has consulted its lawyers and is raising funds to sue the  government over the matter.

The DRIP bill has cross-party political support and has been fast-tracked through the House of Commons despite the opposition of 56 MPs. It is currently awaiting approval from the House of Lords.

The bill forces telecommunications providers to continue storing and  providing access to user ‘metadata’. It is being rushed through Parliament  to replace a set of European regulations which required communications providers to store user metadata for up to 12 months – but which were ruled to be illegal.

DRIP Controversy

Privacy security gagging order hush retro © Everett Collection ShutterstockThose regulations were found to breach citizen privacy by the European Court of Justice in April, and now are no longer in force.

Tom Watson MP  described the entire process as “democratic banditry, resonant of a rogue state. The people who put this shady deal together should be ashamed.”

And now the Open Rights Group has said it is seeking new members and wants to raise donations to fund its litigation.

Terrible Thing

“Parliament has a done a terrible thing,” said the group in a blog posting. “They’ve ignored a court judgement and shoved complex law through a legislative mincer in just three days.”

“Whilst Parliament swallowed Theresa May’s tired arguments that ‘terrorist plots will go undetected’ and ‘these are powers and capabilities that exist today’, she failed to make a compelling argument that holding everyone’s data is necessary and proportionate,” wrote ORG. “Frankly, the Government was evasive and duplicitous, and they were in a hurry to cover their tracks.”

“The ECJ has stated once that blanket data retention is unlawful,” it said. “This means we have strong grounds to challenge the new legislation on the same basis. That’s where we need you. We can initiate legal action with your help: please join ORG today.”

“We’re already meeting with lawyers and taking Counsel’s advice to work out the best way to take the Government to court,” said ORG, which admitted that it faces a tough and potentially fight ahead.

“We will work every other group who is willing to help,” it said. “But a major legal battle like this is going to be tough. The more resources we have, the more we’ll be able to do to stand up to DRIP.”

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