The so-called snooper’s charter will now a series of new legal challenges after the EU’s highest court ruled government’s “general and indiscriminate retention” of emails is illegal.
The EU’s highest court found that only targeted retention aimed at fighting serious crime could justify serious interference by the state.
Only targeted information gathering is justified, the European Court of Justice said, boosting the case against the sweeping collection of emails, text messages and internet data.
The Investigatory Powers Act passed into law in November, granting the Government far-reaching new abilities that allow it to indiscriminately hack and store data relating to internet use.
The case was brought to the European Court by Brexit Secretary David Davis, despite his role in seeking to leave the bloc.
The Investigatory Powers Act – labelled the “snooper’s charter” by critics was recently passed into law. This requires communications companies to keep data for a year, something civil liberties campaigners say should be dropped in light of the ruling.
Communications data does not include the content of emails and telephone conversations, but the emails and phone numbers used and the times of the exchanges.
The case will now be sent back to the Court of Appeal in London.
A Home Office spokesperson said the Government was “disappointed” with the judgement.
“The Government will be putting forward robust arguments to the Court of Appeal about the strength of our existing regime for communications data retention and access,” they said.
The decision could prove inconsequential after the UK withdraws from the EU, when the European Court of Justice will no longer have jurisdiction over the Government.
Yet the ruling is an embarrassment for Theresa May, who has faced stiff opposition to the controversial law. The Government has vowed to appeal against the decision.