The Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Bill (DRIP) will significantly extend the UK surveillance regime, rather than merely preserving the status quo, according to a group of 15 legal academics.
In an open letter to MPs, experts from twelve different UK universities called the bill “a serious expansion of the British surveillance state”.
The legislation goes far beyond simply authorising data retention in the UK. In fact, Drip attempts to extend the territorial reach of the British interception powers, expanding the UK’s ability to mandate the interception of communications content across the globe. It introduces powers that are not only completely novel in the United Kingdom, they are some of the first of their kind globally.
The experts urged the government and MPs to abandon the fast-track process and ensure that the bill received proper parliamentary scrutiny.
DRIP is far more than an administrative necessity; it is a serious expansion of the British surveillance state. We urge the British Government not to fast track this legislation and instead apply full and proper parliamentary scrutiny to ensure Parliamentarians are not mislead as to what powers this Bill truly contains.
However, the plea fell on deaf ears as MPs voted as instructed by party leaders, and approved the bill by a vote of 449 to 33. The bill is currently before the House of Lords, and could be passed into law as early as tomorrow.
The signatories to the open letter include Professor Ian Brown of the Oxford Internet Institute, Professor Andrew Murray of the London School of Economics, and Julia Powles of the University of Cambridge.
For more information, see: An open letter from UK internet law academics and experts