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Indiscriminate Data Collection Unlawful, Rules EU

A legal challenge to UK Government legislation giving the authorities wide powers to collect and retain data has been upheld by the European Court of Justice (ECJ).

The Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act 2014, which has been widely described as a ‘snooper’s charter’, requires communications companies to retain information on their customers’ use of their systems for 12 months.

The ECJ ruled that the ‘indiscriminate’ collection of data could not be justified and that data collection should only be undertaken in order to fight serious crime.

The Act is repealed at the end of this month, but the ruling will also impact on its successor, the Investigatory Powers Act 2016, which received the Royal Assent on 29 November. That Act is summarised (in part) as enabling ‘the interception of communications, equipment interference and the acquisition and retention of communications data, bulk personal datasets and other information…’.

The Government has indicated that it intends to appeal against the ECJ’s decision.