The June 23 Brexit vote was all about Britain leaving the EU, but on Wednesday the European Court of Justice ruled against the country’s law on internet data retention after it was challenged by David Davis, the man who is now in charge of exiting the EU in the Theresa May government.
Dubbed the “snoopers’ charter”, the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act requires companies to retain data for 12 months as part of the government’s efforts to deal with terrorism.
It was opposed by Davis, who was then a backbencher Conservative MP, but is now the secretary of state for Exiting the European Union. He and others had challenged the law in the European court.
Britain is still a member of the EU and subject to rulings of the European court, which held that “general and indiscriminate retention” of data was against EU law and can only be done under certain conditions and “solely for the purpose of fighting serious crime”.
As liberty campaigners hailed the ruling, the May government said it was disappointed, insisting that the Home Office will put forward “robust arguments” in the UK Court of Appeal that will now hear the case.
Tom Watson, Labour's deputy leader, who is one of those bringing the case, said: "This ruling shows it's counter-productive to rush new laws through parliament without a proper scrutiny."
The Home Office said, "Given the importance of communications data to preventing and detecting crime, we will ensure plans are in place so that the police and other public authorities can continue to acquire such data in a way that is consistent with EU law and our obligation to protect the public."
Campaign group Liberty said: "Today's judgment upholds the rights of ordinary British people not to have their personal lives spied on without good reason or an independent warrant. The government must now make urgent changes to the Investigatory Powers Act to comply with this."
Prime Minister May has said the government will trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty to leave the EU by the end of March 2017 in a process that is expected to last for at least two years.