Surveillance law slammed


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Law professor labels new legislation as ‘rushed’ 

Following the announcement of the UK’s latest surveillance law recently, a Leeds professor has had his say on what he describes as a ‘rushed’ piece of legislation, which weakens our basic rights.

Professor Subhajit Basu, Associate Professor in Information Technology Law at the University of Leeds, openly disapproves of the law, which sees the UK become more of a surveillance state than ever before.

By using data retention in a more expansive way, the government will be able to keep even more records on every individual, something Professor Basu strongly criticises.

“This is an act of desperation of a government which is running out ideas and issues,” he said.

“This new legislation requires that personal communications data is held for 12 months, giving law enforcement access to metadata of phone calls, emails, text messages and the like.

“Metadata includes information about the time messages are sent and the location of the sender, but not the actual content.

“The level of intrusion is unbelievable so information about each one of us will be kept. It is a false argument that the state will lose track of dangerous criminals without the new law.

“This is about protecting the law enforcement authorities from the consequences of actions that would otherwise be unlawful. This is not just about protecting the public, this is more like Chinese style ‘blanket surveillance’.

“This is a hastily drafted and ill-conceived legislation that is merely reactive and not proactive.”

The introduction of the law was first announced last week, on Thursday 10th July, when the coalition government, with support from the opposition, published the draft emergency legislation, titled the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Bill.

With no prior debate to the ruling being introduced it has been criticised by many who see it as too intrusive and Professor Basu adds that it ‘breaches fundamental rights’.

He added: “This is setting a very bad precedent, previously government never attempted to re-legislate provisions that have been found unlawful through breaches of fundamental rights (European Court of Justice decision).

“This is a dangerous precedent. This new law breaches fundamental rights yet nobody has had the chance to debate and question.”

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