The UK’s Mass Surveillance Powers have been Ruled Illegal

The government now has to rewrite laws storing citizens’ browsing history, say civil rights campaigners

The UK may be forced to scale back its digital mass surveillance schemes after a court ruled today that its current powers are unlawful.

The UK’s Court of Appeal said that the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act (DRIPA) did not adequately restrict police officers access to personal information, including citizens’ phone records and web browsing history. According to a report from The Guardian, three appeal court judges ruled said that DRIPA lacked safeguards like an independent overseer, and so was “inconsistent with EU law.”

DRIPA was passed in 2014 as “emergency” legislation, with parliamentary debate restricted to just a single day of discussion. The law paved the way for 2016’s Investigatory Powers Act, which authorized even more intrusive powers, and which Edward Snowden dubbed “the most extreme surveillance in the history of western democracy.”

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