UK.gov's data grab and stab law imminent as Drip drips through House of Lords
Rushed bill passed uncontested by upper chamber of Parliament
A controversial data retention and investigatory powers bill (Drip) that has been quickly shoved through Parliament by the Tory-led Coalition government looks set to become law after peers in the House of Lords waved it through without challenge.
The bill's passage followed less than two days of debate in the upper chamber, following on from approval in the House of Commons late on Tuesday night.
MPs hastily rubber-stamped Drip, which secured cross-party support last week when it was successfully presented as an "emergency" legislation plea from Whitehall.
However, questions have been raised in Parliament and beyond about exactly why the law was considered urgent, given that the government's existing data retention powers were deemed watertight by Home Secretary Theresa May.
The legislation was necessary, she argued, to put misgivings from tech giants "beyond doubt", after a European Court of Justice ruling in April said that the 28-member-state's bloc Data Retention Directive should be trashed because it interfered with privacy and human rights' rules.
On Tuesday, MPs secured minor amendments to the bill to strengthen promised safeguards put in place by the coalition. But attempts in both the lower and upper chambers to change the sunset clause date from 2016 to 2015 failed.
Peers argued today that such a move to end the legislation earlier than planned would clash with next year's General Election.
Meanwhile, civil liberties campaigners have expressed concerns about whether the Drip Act, as it will become known, could conflict with the European Convention of Human Rights.
The new law looks set to arrive within hours of the UN slamming Five Eyes nations – the UK, US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand – for their mass surveillance tactics. ®