As reported in the Daily Telegraph:
European judges to rule on UK data law
European judges could water down the powers of police and security services to obtain information from phone calls, text messages and emails just weeks before the EU referendum.
The European Court of Justice (ECJ) will next month consider whether the “bulk” interception of communications data is a breach of the principle of human rights.
The final decision will have a signifi-cant impact on current Government plans to grant the security services further investigatory powers to tackle terrorism and serious crime.
The timing of the judgment ahead of the June 23 referendum will fuel allegations from Leave campaigners that European judges are exerting too much influence on British security matters.
The court is making the decision after David Davis, a Conservative MP, and Tom Watson, Labour’s deputy leader, last year won a legal victory against the Government over the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act 2014.
They argued that it permits police and security services to spy on citizens without sufficient privacy safeguards. The Act also requires internet and phone companies to keep communications data for a year.
The High Court ruled that the laws are “inconsistent with European Union law”, a decision which will now be reviewed by the European Court.
Mr Davis, who is campaigning for Britain to leave the EU, said: “The Government is too casual about authorisation mechanisms for data that is very private to ordinary British citizens.
“If we win this case it will require them to have much more independent scrutiny of that access. It will not stop that access but it will limit unnecessary intrusion in people’s lives.”
He added: “If we were outside Europe this decision would be made by the Supreme Court. It is ironic to me that the Government chose to go to the ECJ.”
Writing in today’s Daily Telegraph, Lord Hague accuses those bringing the case of “paranoia” over surveillance. He says: “Winning the battle against mass murder on the streets will need this paranoia to be overcome.”