The Civil Society groups behind the Don’t Spy On Us coalition have produced a briefing on the fast-track Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Bill (PDF).
You can read our initial analysis of the emergency legislation announcement, as well as our amendment recommendations here.
The Data Retention and Investigatory Powers (DRIP) Bill was published on 10th July 2014 following a press conference given by the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister announcing emergency surveillance legislation. They indicated that the leader of the Opposition had already given Labour’s support to the Bill following private cross-party discussions and this was confirmed by the Shadow Home Secretary in the Chamber later in the day. The Bill is now due to receive all its substantive stages in the House of Commons next Tuesday 16th July. The Lords will be invited to pass the Bill on Wednesday and the Commons will consider any Lords amendments on Thursday. Royal Assent is to be granted before summer recess and the legislation will come into effect immediately. Parliamentary scrutiny and debate is therefore effectively neutered and it is unlikely that the Bill will be substantively amended.
In introducing this legislation, the security services, civil service and Coalition and the Opposition leaders have demonstrated a staggering disregard for parliamentary democracy and the Rule of Law. If there is any opportunity for amendment we recommend that the Bill’s sunset is brought forward to reflect its supposedly temporary nature. The Bill is currently due to expire on 31 December 2016 – two and a half years away. Given widespread public, international and commercial concern about the Government’s surveillance powers (which are significantly extended here) and the likely unlawful nature of at least part of the Bill’s substance, we strongly advise parliamentarians to amend the sunset expiry date to 31 December 2014. This will at least ensure that RIPA review takes place in a timely manner and Parliament is able to reassert its constitutional function.