Open Rights Group respond to court ruling that government surveillance regime unlawful

“Once again, another UK court has found another piece of Government surveillance legislation to be unlawful. The Government needs to admit their legislation is flawed and make the necessary changes to the Investigatory Powers Act to protect the public’s fundamental rights.”

“The Investigatory Powers Act carves a gaping hole in the public’s rights. Public bodies able to access data without proper oversight, and access to that data for reasons other than fighting serious crime. These practices must stop, the courts have now confirmed it. The ball is firmly in the Government’s court to set it right.”

– Matthew Rice, Open Rights Group


The Court of Appeal have today announced that, as expected, the mass retention of public data was unlawful. Allowing for public bodies to access retained data without proper oversight, and to do so for reasons other than fighting serious crime is inconsistent with EU law.

Court of appeal ruling

The Open Rights Group intervened in the case in 2014 and have been acknowledged by the Blackstone’s Guide to the IPA Act 2016 as an important factor in the case.

Government consultation

Government consultation response

The case was based on the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act (2014) which was replaced by the Investigatory Powers Act in 2016. Whilst DRIPA itself is no longer in force the court of appeal ruling demonstrates the fundamental flaws in the current legislation. The government opened a consultation on the current legislation recently, ceding that independent authorisation was a necessary update, but refusing to engage with our serious concerns in regards to mass retention of data. This ruling is vindication of our position that this retention needs to stop.