CIJ Welcomes ECJ Ruling on IP Bill

    The European Court of Justice (ECJ) today ruled against the UK government, declaring the indiscriminate collection and retention of electronic communications data permitted by the Investigatory Powers Bill to be unlawful.

    Responding to a legal challenge initiated by British MPs David Davis and Tom Watson and supported by civil society groups including Liberty, the Law Society, Open Rights Group and Privacy International, EU judges stated that such retention of data can only be lawful in certain circumstances and solely for the purpose of fighting serious crime. The ruling is especially relevant, given revelations that the state has spied on journalists and their communications with sources under the precursor to the new legislation, the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act, or 'Snoopers' Charter'.

    Matt Kennard, CIJ Director, said: “We welcome the decision today by the ECJ which found that the indiscriminate retention of email and electronic communications the Investigatory Powers Bill enables is illegal. The IP Bill, which passed through UK Parliament in November, was an affront to democratic values and basic civil liberties.

    "The practice of journalism is under attack across the Western world from state and corporate actors. We need legislation that does the opposite of the IP Bill and establishes the rights and liberties of journalists and citizens again for the new technological age. If we value our democratic society, journalism and journalists should be protected from state interference in their work at all costs.

    "The IP Bill tilts power massively in favour of the state and away from journalists and citizens. It endangers us all and should be annulled as soon as possible. Hopefully this ruling will expedite that process.”