I was all ready to pen a nice article about The Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act (DRIPA) after I attended a Home Office briefing Thursday at the ITSPA summer forum, however I’ve just seen this article from the BBC.
Personally, I agree with both the courts and with Tom Watson, MP and David Davis, MP. The poorly acronym’d DRIPA legislation was a bad piece of legislation, pushed through as an emergency measure with little or no parliamentary scrutiny. This legislation attempts to strike a careful balance between two key concepts – the government and its agencies’ need to catch criminals and safeguard the public; and our rights as citizens to privacy. For this legislation to have little or no scrutiny or debate is, in my opinion, a travesty and sticks two fingers up to our entire process of governing. The only good that I saw in DRIPA was the sunset clause which gave the Home Office the time to draft legislation for debate in the chambers and the necessary accompanying review of legislation carried out and reported on by David Anderson QC, which in and of itself is an interesting and wonderfully balanced report with a comprehensive review and series of recommendations.
The briefing on Thursday was very informative and it was immediately clear that the Home Office is very conscious of the balance they need to strike between the essential needs of government to protect its citizens from harm and to provide them with a legal infrastructure that protects their right to live a peaceful life. What was clear was that drafting legislation like this takes time to get right, especially since it has been promised a full and informed debate in both chambers. This would have happened early next year with legislation due to be enacted by the end of 2016.
Now the problem with this ruling starts to become apparent. On the one hand I agree with the court that this legislation is not compatible with our human rights, but the judgement actually limits the time available for drafting and debating in full what is an extremely complex piece of legislation. This, unf0rtunately, is the crux of the matter – Tom Watson and David Davis may have shot themselves in the collective feet by actually preventing the full and frank debate that this new bill needs.
It remains to be seen what will happen between now and April when the judgement of the court comes into effect, but this one may have backfired.