back to article UK, French, Belgian blanket spying systems ruled illegal by Europe’s top court

Mass surveillance programs run by the UK, French and Belgian governments are illegal, Europe’s top court has decided in a huge win for privacy advocates. The European Court of Justice (CJEU) announced on Tuesday that legislation passed by all three countries that allows the government to demand traffic and location data from …

  1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    International Insecurity ..... the Gift that just keeps on giving

    It never rains but it pours .......... Carte Blanche 00 Licence to Thrill

    Surely nobody sane expects security services and assistant agencies to follow rules and act normally/traditionally/conventionally. That would be as an open invitation for madness and mayhem to invade with CHAOS and conflict in tow bringing up the rear. You gotta be really stupid to believe that is possible.

    1. big_D Silver badge

      Re: International Insecurity ..... the Gift that just keeps on giving

      The heads of and the ministers responsible for the BND, MI6 have all been drawn over the coals before now or fallen on their proverbial swords for overreach.

      Heck, the US Supreme Court ruled that the CIA, NSA and Co. had gone too far, based on the Snowden leaks and had acted illegally.

      The UK's RIPA bill has been thrown back at the Government at least twice, because it breaches Human Rights standards.

      1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

        Re: International Insecurity ..... the Gift that just keeps on giving @big_D

        If one wants a quieter and more uncomplicated life, big_D, one can always accept that some of the exceptionally smarter agents are, and have always been a law unto themselves, and as such, always best acknowledged whenever practically invisible as virtually effectively untouchable ...... with it being certainly advised as being distinctly unwise to warrant their exclusive intrusive invasive personalised attention, because of such attention being trialed by others thinking it wise to be funded and headed their way.

        That's both a critical strategic mistake to make and a fundamental tactical error to always avoid like the plague, for no good comes of it, for everything then committed is intelligently designed to be suddenly lost/forfeited/sequestered/quarantined/commandeered and no longer left readily available to any or all interested parties.

        'Tis a remarkably heavy price to pay for nothing worthwhile, but a valuable lesson to learn if one is able to survive.

  2. StrangerHereMyself

    Nothing rhymed

    I'm not sure if anything has been accomplished since the illegality of these mass surveillance systems was known long before they were implemented but announced. Yet EU member states implemented them anyway. No doubt there will now start a long and protracted legal battle over this, with member states dragging their feet all the while threatening the EC with a reduction of authority if their new toys are taken from them.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Nothing rhymed

      " the illegality of these mass surveillance systems was known long before"

      In legal terms it's not "known" until a court rules on it.

      1. StrangerHereMyself

        Re: Nothing rhymed

        The EU law they refer to existed before the mass surveillance systems were put in place.

        They could've / should've known that these systems were illegal under EU law.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Nothing rhymed

          I'm not sure that's entirely fair, it seems to me that some sincerely believed it was OK.

          It'll be interesting to see what happens next.... if they change what they do then we can all celebrate... if not we can at least be happy in the confirmation of our cynicism :-)

          1. ThatOne Silver badge
            Devil

            Re: Nothing rhymed

            > if they change what they do

            ...We'll be able to sell room heaters to hell!

            Please remember what "a politician" actually is: It's somebody who wants, needs power, power as absolute and unsupervised as possible. Such a person would never voluntarily bow to a bunch of foreign bureaucrats. He needs that feeling of unrestrained power cursing through his veins to be any good in bed.

            1. Halfmad Silver badge

              Re: Nothing rhymed

              Not all politicians enter into the field for power, most do I agree but there are many who don't.

              1. ThatOne Silver badge

                Re: Nothing rhymed

                > Not all politicians enter into the field for power

                True, initially. But power corrupts.

                Power is a powerful drug, and the very idea of becoming a politician stems from an urge to tell other people what they should think and do anyway, so if you're not a "I'm right, everyone else is wrong" kind of person you will never ever even think about becoming a politician. If you just want to serve your community you go volunteer at a soup kitchen or some such.

          2. doublelayer Silver badge

            Re: Nothing rhymed

            I don't think that's how any of that worked. The history seems to be that some people worked out a way for laws to not conflict maybe while others did what they wanted to, in many cases ignoring even those people trying to stretch the letter of the law. Those who created the spying programs didn't care what the law said they could do, or even what their own lawyers said they could contort the text into allowing, but instead did everything they could come up with. When laws changed or courts informed them that they needed to stop, they just didn't and waited for the next case.

            Take this chunk from the decision:

            “in situations where a Member State is facing a serious threat to national security that proves to be genuine and present or foreseeable, that Member State may derogate from the obligation to ensure the confidentiality of data relating to electronic communications by requiring, by way of legislative measures, the general and indiscriminate retention of that data for a period that is limited in time to what is strictly necessary, but which may be extended if the threat persists.”

            Here's how that chunk will get used:

            "in situations where a Member State is facing a serious threat to national security that proves to be genuine and present or foreseeable,"

            "foreseeable". "Foreseeable"! "FORESEEABLE"! As long as the people at the spying organizations can foresee something bad, they can do many things. I can foresee bad things with ease, and I guarantee you that they can foresee much worse things. Here they have complete authority to activate the powers granted them in the rest of the quote. But of course that section will still impose serious limits:

            "that Member State may derogate from the obligation to ensure the confidentiality of data relating to electronic communications"

            All good so far, they can throw away their responsibilities. Restrictions are coming, right?

            "by requiring, by way of legislative measures,"

            Oh no. They'll have to get the legislature's support. This is a major blow, because they'll have to inform the public about what they're doing and why. Except the laws being challenged here already support the measures, so nothing new is required.

            "the general and indiscriminate retention of that data"

            Well, they didn't hold back about adding sufficient adjectives to let the organizations do whatever they want, did they?

            "for a period that is limited in time to what is strictly necessary,"

            Ah, they're throwing us a bone. They can do whatever they want, but only for a limited time. Then they have to throw out their data and start over. At least they'll only have a year of my data at any time. Sure it'll be the most recent year, but still, it's nice that they're giving me that.

            "but which may be extended if the threat persists."

            Remember that the threat will persist for as long as someone can foresee it. And that nobody gets to decide that the foresight is wrong or question whether the threat persisted. I foresee that a new country will form called Evilania, and it will invade our country. As long as I continue to foresee it, I can extend the retention timeline as long as I like.

          3. Psmo Silver badge
            Paris Hilton

            Re: Nothing rhymed

            Yeah but the house of Lords contains some of the best legal brains in the country.

            Why did they not/ were they not allowed to do their jobs?

      2. Dinanziame Bronze badge
        Alert

        Re: Nothing rhymed

        This is not the US common law, where unconstitutional laws can be on the books for many years until a court decides that they should be ignored. In civil law systems, courts only rules facts, not interpretations.

        1. StrangerHereMyself

          Re: Nothing rhymed

          At least in the U.S. there are constitutional courts that can strike down challenged laws. There's no such thing in the UK and many European countries (save Germany).

          1. ThatOne Silver badge

            Re: Nothing rhymed

            > There's no such thing in the UK and many European countries (save Germany).

            True, but this depends on how important each considers their constitution to be. In many countries most people just assume there is one, but have no idea if that's true, or what it actually says. In others it's just a formal paper you can change on a whim to suit your current political needs.

            If the USA and Germany have such important constitutions worth protecting with a special court, it's because those constitutions are foundation stones (USA), or the safeguard against repeating past errors (Germany). Also both countries are federal nations, made up of a bunch of very different and not necessarily always culturally agreeing entities. Running such a heterogeneous ensemble is facilitated by having a framework all agree upon.

            1. EnviableOne Silver badge

              Re: Nothing rhymed

              both the USA and Federal Germany are relativley new countries, that have defined their Constituions in an age where such things were recorded and are based on some of the documents that form part of older more nuanced constitutions.

              the UK has no one piece of paper, or single document, but has a system of common law and core documents that form a far more rounded and nuanced system than those relative younglings.

              The Magna Carta (1215), the Petition of Right (1628) , the Bill of Rights (1689), the Act of Settlement (1701) all confer rights on the people and form part of the UK constitution, it also contains other un written rights like the common law duty of confidentuality.

              1. ThatOne Silver badge

                Re: Nothing rhymed

                > the USA and Federal Germany are relativley new countries

                France is just as old as the UK, and yet has a constitution.

                You're right that constitutions only became fashionable relatively recently (historically), but I would rather tie it to the political system: Monarchies don't have constitutions, they have at best the monarch's promises to not be too harsh. But once there is no king of divine right anymore, you need some framework that determines what the nation is and how it works, and that's a constitution.

                1. Psmo Silver badge
                  Headmaster

                  Re: Nothing rhymed

                  France has been rewritten 5 times.

                  This version has been in place since 1958. See:

                  https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/French_Fifth_Republic

                  The previous comment stands.

                  1. ThatOne Silver badge

                    Re: Nothing rhymed

                    > France has been rewritten 5 times.

                    Yes, but that's because they are french. :-p

                    The point (my point) is that they have one. The fact they constantly change it to fit the gout du jour doesn't change that.

          2. Stork Silver badge

            Re: Nothing rhymed

            Portugal has one as well, and it seems to be used regularly. At the crunch 10 years ago, I think cuts in pensions were ruled unconstitutional.

            In Denmark it belongs with the supreme court (Højesteret) but is hardly ever used for constitutional matters, which is a pity as the constitution is not that bad.

        2. Blazde

          Re: Nothing rhymed

          "This is not the US common law, where unconstitutional laws can be on the books for many years until a court decides that they should be ignored. In civil law systems, courts only rules facts, not interpretations."

          They do interpret law, and in this case the GDPR exemptions are incredibly vaguely drafted so the interpretation was only ever going to crystallise once the ECJ started ruling on it. Also the EU does have a de facto constitution in the shape of the Treaties and the Charter (of Fundamental Rights of the European Union) which constrain EU legislation and give the courts power to strike it down, and that has been used in this case to constrain the GDPR exemptions.

          What you're getting at I suppose is that the courts are not legally bound to follow the interpretations of past ECJ judgments as in a common law system, and so formally the law is 'known' in it's entirety immediately after the legislation has passed (despite what Doctor Syntax said). That's a very theoretical technicality though. In practice national courts follow the ECJ rulings on similar cases and the ECJ pays a lot of attention to it's own past decisions, trying to make interpretation consistent. So the law is much better known both for the average Joe and the most studious lawyer once some judgements have been made.

  3. Duncan Macdonald Silver badge
    Mushroom

    Not for much longer

    The transition agreement runs out on 31/Dec/2020 - after that the European Court of Justice has no authority in the UK. I expect the UK government and its security agencies to just waffle until then and keep the mass surveillance programs. The UK government (all parties) is far too fond of the power that the mass surveillance programs give them to abandon the programs.

    Icon for what should (but will not) happen to the mass surveillance programs =========================>

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Not for much longer

      Don't you think that'll instead be what'll happen to justify the mass surveillance? Nothing like a crisis to get the masses banging at your door, after all, and what better to scare people to you than to see a major city suddenly get nuked...

      1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
        Coat

        Leave it to Boris

        suddenly get nuked...

        No need to fear people hell bent on causing death and destruction to the population. The UK Government are "World Beating" when it comes to inflicting that on the population that it is supposed to serve

        1. big_D Silver badge
          Mushroom

          Re: Leave it to Boris

          World Beating? I think you need to open your world view a bit more...

          1. acid andy
            Devil

            Re: Leave it to Boris

            Just give them a few more terms. Actually, I'd really rather you didn't!

      2. Cederic Silver badge

        Re: Not for much longer

        No.

        There are quite enough terror attacks and superstitious zealots intent on being idiots to justify continued surveillance to Parliament. Hell, most MPs need convincing not to impose more and more.

        (Except on themselves of course. They get exemptions. In the public interest, apparently, that MPs don't have the law apply to themselves.)

    2. Warm Braw Silver badge

      Re: Not for much longer

      after that the European Court of Justice has no authority in the UK

      I've no doubt that is what will be said in public. However, authority, like sovereignty, is a largely theoretical term: what matters in reality is who has power.

      The UK will be at theoretical liberty to go its own way, but the practical consequence will be a severing of data-sharing with the EU: if they're prepared to cut of the US, they'll happily cut off the UK.

      If you wish to demonstrate autonomy over your own body, you can saw off your lower limbs - with the practical consequence that you wouldn't have a leg to stand on.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Not for much longer

        "The UK will be at theoretical liberty to go its own way, but the practical consequence...."

        And you think the current HMG gives a damn about consequences?

        Like the next US govt, the next UK govt. is going to have a massive foreign relations and trade repair job on its hands.

    3. tip pc Silver badge

      Re: Not for much longer

      Uk government has agreed to abide by any rulings on cases started by 31/12/2020 (rulings must be made within 4 years).

      That’s one reason why the EU are suing HMG now in the euro courts over the internal market bill. If they waited till Jan 1st HMG would ignore any rulings. If a deal is agreed then the internal market bill would never be used & hence no case to answer.

      1. Blazde

        Re: Not for much longer

        "Uk government has agreed to abide by any rulings"

        .. in a treaty, parts of which the UK government has now un-agreed to. And the procedure if they don't abide is that the Arbitration Panel will make a ruling that they haven't abided, and so there will merely be two rulings to ignore instead of one.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Not for much longer

          That's because since he got CV-19, Boris can't read a thing. He needs Cummings to draw pretty pictures in a colouring book for him to grasp even the most basic fact.

          If you can get out before 2021, don't delay. go now before it is too late.

          1. Dinanziame Bronze badge

            Re: Not for much longer

            To be honest, if you're working in IT, I don't know why you'd insist on staying in UK. The pay and the work conditions are terrible compared to other countries.

            1. Cederic Silver badge

              Re: Not for much longer

              Hmm. I've worked with IT workers in India, Malaysia, Chile, South Africa, Australia, USA, Canada, Bulgaria, France, Costa Rica and Monaco. All in just the past five years.

              One of those places pays better than the UK and I promise you, it absolutely does not have better work conditions.

          2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: Not for much longer

            Cummings doesn't need to explain anything to BoJo. He just tells him.

      2. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: Not for much longer

        >"If a deal is agreed then the internal market bill would never be used & hence no case to answer."

        Err no.

        The IMB is to allow the UK Government (currently Boris and co.) to sign the deal they have agreed to and then throw it in the bin.

      3. codejunky Silver badge

        Re: Not for much longer

        @tip pc

        "That’s one reason why the EU are suing HMG now in the euro courts over the internal market bill."

        Interestingly it might not be possible for the EU to sue over the internal market bill, because its a bill not an act. It is proposed but is not law and that matters when dealing in international law-

        www.spectator.co.uk/article/why-the-eu-can-t-sue-the-uk

        1. Roland6 Silver badge

          Re: Not for much longer

          >Interestingly it might not be possible for the EU to sue over the internal market bill, because its a bill not an act.

          However, for the Internal Market Bill to have any real value, it needs to be on the status books before the end of the year; so a game of cat-and-mouse is probably being played: will the bill be an Act before the case gets a court date and will that date be before the end of the year...

    4. Avatar of They
      Thumb Up

      Re: Not for much longer

      Very true.

      And then GDPR kicks in, and like Privacy shield we can't trade with the EU. Then it gets real for everyone and we all suffer because of power made tools in parliament. (well okay suffer more... not like the pain isn't already being felt)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Not for much longer

        Basically, for the sort of "freedom" the brexitters want, we'd have as much to do with the rest of the world as North Korea... Well, even worse - they do have China.

        Dombo has already agreed to not sacrifice our human rights in a deal - much to the annoyance of the ERG who long for the return of the workhouses. "Why do the oiks need rights" say the toffs, and apparently the oiks agreed....

    5. Ken 16 Silver badge
      Holmes

      Re: Not for much longer

      That's not the way to get an Adequacy ruling

  4. Andy The Hat Silver badge

    Hear all about it!

    SPYING ON YOUR CITIZENS IS ILLEGAL

    No shit Sherlock.

    The hard bit is getting the "powers" to completely invert their view of the state and get them to understand that they work for and are controlled by the us, the people, and we are not in a dictatorship owned and controlled by "them".

    Some hope ...

    1. ThatOne Silver badge
      Big Brother

      Re: Hear all about it!

      > they work for and are controlled by [...] the people

      That's what they want you to think.

    2. Blazde

      Re: Hear all about it!

      This argument doesn't work when 'the people' want 'them' to spy on us, broadly speaking: https://yougov.co.uk/topics/politics/articles-reports/2017/06/12/Security-Trumps-Privacy

      1. ThatOne Silver badge

        Re: Hear all about it!

        > This argument doesn't work when 'the people' want 'them' to spy on us

        Yes, and sheep really want to be shorn, you just need to convince them so...

        Crowds are as stupid as their most stupid member, so with some basic FUD you can convince them of almost anything, including things wildly detrimental to them. How else do you think any dictator and his handful of henchmen can rule a country of millions of people? "Iron fist" or not, given the sheer numbers of the population, people should be able to (literally) crush any attempt to harm them. Yet they very rarely do...

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: Hear all about it!

          ""Iron fist" or not, given the sheer numbers of the population, people should be able to (literally) crush any attempt to harm them. Yet they very rarely do..."

          Depends on the size of the fist. If you have a fist large enough to tear the whole country or worse apart attached to someone willing to go MAD, people start checking if their situation actually is worse than what's potentially on offer.

          1. ThatOne Silver badge

            Re: Hear all about it!

            > a fist large enough to tear the whole country or worse apart

            That only applies if you play with his rules. You need to play with your rules, and they state that a dictator is one single person, and "the people" are millions.

            Power only works if you can persuade people that obeying you is the lesser of two evils.

            1. Charles 9 Silver badge

              Re: Hear all about it!

              "Power only works if you can persuade people that obeying you is the lesser of two evils."

              And enough single-handed power to be able to cull a sizable chunk of your population like it's Tuesday can be terrifyingly persuasive...because it implies the power to make the rules...and to hammer down anyone who dares to stick his head up.

              1. ThatOne Silver badge

                Re: Hear all about it!

                > And enough single-handed power to be able to cull a sizable chunk of your population

                I didn't make myself clear: Your dictator is not the supervillain with superpowers you make him sound like. All that fearsome propaganda is just his "don't mess with me or else" cover. In reality he is just an average Joe, susceptible to all things which affect an average Joe: One bullet and he's as dead as anyone else.

                1. Charles 9 Silver badge

                  Re: Hear all about it!

                  Then perhaps you're not thinking things through. Why hasn't it already been tried already, then?

                  1. ThatOne Silver badge

                    Re: Hear all about it!

                    > Why hasn't it already been tried already, then?

                    Ah, the crux of the problem: Why don't all the kids bunch together to make a schoolyard bully shut up once and forever?

                    Because our fight/flight reflexes are geared towards flight, and herd mentality dictates you do whatever the others do, in this case nothing. Nobody wants to be the first one.

                    That's indeed the fatal flaw which makes bullying so easy...

          2. codejunky Silver badge

            Re: Hear all about it!

            @Charles 9

            "Depends on the size of the fist"

            True. Those with the means or desperation leave the country, Even when the guns turn inward at the border.

  5. Christoph

    If they can't collect the data themselves they can just ask NSA for their copy.

    1. TimMaher Bronze badge
      Pint

      The NSA copy

      Will be on an Excel spreadsheet of the xls persuasion.

    2. sev.monster
      Pirate

      Don't copy that floppy!

  6. Pascal Monett Silver badge
    Go

    Can I say it now ?

    The EU is now the beacon of freedom and justice for all. The USA has lost the crown and is descending into madness. It will probably recover, in time.

    Meanwhile, it's in the EU that freedom is guaranteed the best. Justice a bit less maybe, but we're getting there.

    1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

      Re: Can I say it now ?

      Meanwhile, it's in the EU that freedom is guaranteed the best. Justice a bit less maybe, but we're getting there.

      The UK still tops most countries in world rankings of freedom (14th worldwide, 9th place among EU members in the world human freedom index) and justice (8th overall worldwide in open government) for example. It is behind the usual candidates like New Zealand, Sweden and Denmark, but well ahead of France and Italy, for example. Generally also ahead of the USA. Don't believe all you read in the tabloids.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Can I say it now ?

        Just don’t piss off Liz, or her swans!

        1. DavCrav Silver badge

          Re: Can I say it now ?

          "Just don’t piss off Liz, or her swans!"

          She only owns the mute swans. Do what you want to the others.

          1. phuzz Silver badge

            Re: Can I say it now ?

            "Do what you want to the others."

            Well, you can try, but those fuckers can be pretty vicious.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Can I say it now ?

              But they won't tell on you...

      2. Ben Tasker Silver badge

        Re: Can I say it now ?

        > The UK still tops most countries in world rankings of freedom (14th worldwide, 9th place among EU members in the world human freedom index)

        On the other hand we have a Govt who are currently trying to pass bills that will allow them to

        * Ignore the terms of a treaty they signed up to

        * Ignore domestic laws (including those against murder) under some extremely broad and ill-defined circumstances

        We *might* top most countries in rankings, but do not for a second rely on that. Complacency is the barn door through which all of that escapes, and it's very potentially in progress

        You can put it down to malice or incompetence, but either way the current lot are setting up a legal footing for future abusers. When we start to drop down those periodic rankings it will likely already be too late.

        Which, to be honest, brings us to the same conclusion you ended with

        > Don't believe all you read in the tabloids.

        1. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

          Re: Can I say it now ?

          What I don't understand is why the Tories would pass legislation that allows a future Labour government to get MI5 to round up all Tories and murder them "in the national interest".

          Sauce for the goose...

          1. tiggity Silver badge

            Re: Can I say it now ?

            But MI5 / 6 wouldn't as they are highly against proper labour values (though fine with Tory Lite labour as espoused by Blair or Starmer) - as evidenced by the plots to destabilise the Harold Wilson government, that came not via Conservatives but via the security services.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Can I say it now ?

              the plots to destabilise the Harold Wilson government, that came not via Conservatives but via the security services.

              There was supposedly a plot from some MI5 staff, but it was aimed at Wilson himself, who was alleged to be a soviet spy (according to a discredited defector). It didn't target the Labour party or the government as a whole.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Can I say it now ?

        >>>The UK still tops most countries in world rankings of freedom (14th worldwide ~

        Yeah, but after the 1st 3 there's a reaaaaaaaaal big drop off. Isn't Hong Kong 3rd or 4th?

        1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

          Re: Can I say it now ?

          isn't Hong Kong 3rd or 4th?

          It was in 2019, I doubt it will be up there in the next report. It says "As this foreword is being written, the world watches the citizens of Hong Kong attempt to protect their freedom".

      4. Ken 16 Silver badge
        Headmaster

        Re: Can I say it now ?

        Sources? I looked up the World Freedom Index and the UK is No 20, behind the usual suspects such as Uruguay and Chile.

        1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

          Re: Can I say it now ?

          Hmm, the World Freedom Index is a strangely anonymous thing, no details on the website. It claims to be a summary of three other indices.

          I took my figures from the Cato institute "Human Freedom Index", which claims to use 76 indicators in it's calculations.

          They both seem to show roughly the same general pattern, just differing in precise placings.

      5. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Can I say it now ?

        So why do the ERG want to scrap the human rights act?

        It's irrelevant how much freedom we have now. What matters is what happens after 31/12/2020 when you and the other brexitters (due mainly to the tabloids you curiously accuse of going the other way) get your wish of aligning our protections from the EU to the US.

        1. Ben Tasker Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          Re: Can I say it now ?

          We're often told that UK workers rights and human rights protections are generally always stronger than the minimums imposed by the EU, so why would they change.

          Which, as you say, blindly ignores the fact we've got people like the ERG and the fucking Home Secretary claiming that these protections are bad and need "reform" (cough... scrapping). Hell, they're currently running a campaign against lawyers for having the cheek to try and make sure the law is followed.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Can I say it now ?

            3 people in this thread don't like human rights!

            Yes, they are going against the courts, the BBC, Ofcom, the civil service... just about anyone who doesn't toe the DomJo party line, but why worry? Boris is such a fun guy! Look at his funny hair!

    2. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

      Re: Can I say it now ?

      it's in the EU that freedom is guaranteed the best

      Well, yes and no. No if you happen to live in Catalonia and the Spanish government can beat you up and override your democratic decisions. EU is very, very silent.

  7. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    As such, the intelligence services will immediately start work on their own interpretations of what phrases like “strictly necessary” and “persistent threat” mean and see if they can fit them within existing laws. If that effort doesn’t hold water, we can probably expect to see new legislation proposed by the government.

    Assuming HMG deigns to take notice of it (and they'll have to if they want* any hope of getting a pass on businesses doing any trade with the EU that involves sharing data) they'll probably just go to the filing cabinet and get out Investigative Powers Act 4.0 or whatever number we're up to now.

    I'm sure they've anticipated this and couched the same old slurping in different terms. It's one thing where we're really world beating.

    * I have serious doubts they even care.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    El Reg guilty too

    Stop calling it metadata El Reg. Just don't.

    It is data. What's collected is actually all the data except for the value of the "content" field.

    All other fields are filled: caller name, caller number, caller location, same for the callee, plus date, time, duration, plus probably more like device type, who was talking (bytes sent), etc.

    1. DavCrav Silver badge

      Re: El Reg guilty too

      "Stop calling it metadata El Reg. Just don't. It is data."

      It is metadata. Metadata is a specific type of data, so it is data, but it's specifically data about some more data, and so metadata.

      And it is qualitatively different from collecting all data, as well. If I give you the complete metadata about films, you can build all sorts of information about who likely is friends with whom in Hollywood (Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, for example), but you still cannot see any movie.

      I'm not saying whether or not governments should collect these data, but metadata is a better description of what is collected.

  9. m-k

    Now countries have to figure out what to do

    follow Russia's examples, with a cherry on top, i.e. some mumble-mumble upon how we will study the ruling in detail and 5 sec later the great (British) public will have forgotten about the whole issue, and what can the little fuckers do about it anyway. Rant on the reg, let them, proves democracy works!

  10. Mike 137 Silver badge

    Half way home

    Excellent news that this has finally been decided. However mass data gathering is not the only problem that will affect our inevitable request for an adequacy decision - quite possibly prevent it being granted. The UK's position on transparency in relation to "national security", whereby it's possible for someone to be convicted of a criminal offence with severe penalties without even their defence counsel being able to discover all the evidence against them will also be a real stumbling block.

    However as nobody here in the UK even seems to be taking any notice of Privacy Shield being struck down - they're just carrying on as before piping our personal data to US slurpers - the position post-December 2020 may come as a bit of a shock. Being British, we keep forgetting that we don't always make the rules, but when EU based agencies and businesses stop exchanging data with us we'll find out the reality that we don't.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Half way home

      "we'll find out the reality that we don't"

      Bu, but, but...we've taken back control.

  11. Strahd Ivarius Bronze badge

    Current cases in France

    It will be interesting to see the impact on cases in France where restaurant owners are being prosecuted because they provide WiFi access to their customers and don't keep the connection information for one year as mandated by the spying laws...

    1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

      Re: Current cases in France

      It's not quite that simple. ISPs in France are required by law to keep logs for a year. If a restaurant pays an ISP to install & run its WiFi, there's no issue. If the restaurant just gets the WiFi kit itself and signs up for an internet connection (which, lets face it, is how most restaurants and cafes do it, paying little heed to security, firewalls, QoS, etc.) the restaurant is then considered to be an ISP supplying internet to its customers, and is subject the the same laws as any other ISP.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Current cases in France

        And those logs they are meant to keep fall under the very focus of this ruling. The original poster was correct.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Current cases in France

          The point is that the restaurants are taking the cheap/easy way out & not paying attention to the fact that it defines them as ISPs, who need to keep logs. If they did that for food hygiene laws would anyone be surprised if they were prosecuted?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Current cases in France

            Errrm, if the courts had just ruled hygiene laws illegal, then yes, I would be surprised.

    2. Blazde

      Re: Current cases in France

      'ealf n' safety gone mad

  12. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

    Not a problem for MI5

    If someone objects they can just torture the lawyer to find out who snitched, and then kill them and the judge and say it was "in the national interest"

  13. Long John Silver
    Pirate

    May as well leave security services to do as they wish collecting data

    Legal frameworks regulating state security data collection activities are, at best, cosmetic and of no avail. This is because ordinary citizens cannot just knock on the door of GCHQ and its like and demand to verify legitimacy of activities. Oversight devolves to government ministers, parliament, judiciary, and perhaps a committee of the Privy Council.

    Government ministers have conflict of interest because they may draw upon information derived from surveillance. As evinced by numerous IT cock-ups presided over by ministers, they, regardless of political party, are (proudly?) ignorant of matters mathematical, scientific, technological, and computational. They are incapable of detecting attempts by sharper minds than theirs to pull wool over their eyes. Parliament and its committees are equally devoid of capacity to detect male bovine excrement.

    Senior judiciary generally have very sharp intelligence but very few are equipped to probe deeply into data related activity at GCHQ, MI5/6, etc. The Privy Council is a non-starter because it supports the Crown, i.e. embedded kakistocracy, rather than subjects of the Crown.

    The only setting where data malfeasance could be detected is during a trial when provenance of information is challenged. That is wholly theoretical in two respects. First, trials bringing forth 'sensitive' information take place behind closed doors. Second, security and police forces need not reveal nefarious means of investigation which are merely 'leads' to findings capable of independent verification (e.g. we acted on a tip off and found the data and physical evidence now presented to the court).

    Thus, there is little point to getting upset about mass surveillance through tapping into the Internet. The strongest objection to mass surveillance rests on its inefficiency. That is, collecting masses of data on off-chance of it being useful is mindless compared to setting skilled people onto targeted investigations.

    Regardless, honest citizens and competent crooks have access to various means of protecting their digital security. At very least they can obfuscate their activities such that mere data trawling does not arouse suspicions for follow-up by targeted surveillance.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: May as well leave security services to do as they wish collecting data

      "Oversight devolves to government ministers, parliament, judiciary, and perhaps a committee of the Privy Council."

      You think Parliament gets an effective role?

      The problem is the government minister bit. They can sign warrants which ought to be limited to the judiciary. At present the judiciary is independent (if you doubt that just remember the judgements against govt. over the last few years) but Cummings isn't happy wit that and wants to get his hands on appointments.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: May as well leave security services to do as they wish collecting data

        Yep, Dom wants to control the judiciary, the BBC, the civil service, Ofcom, , the chancellor of the exchequer, parliament....

        Yet people voted for these dictators...

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: May as well leave security services to do as they wish collecting data

          Hey Mr. Downvoter. One day they'll decide to do something unfair that you aren't happy with, and then you'd wish you had a fair media, and an impartial judiciary to fall back on....

    2. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

      Re: May as well leave security services to do as they wish collecting data

      That was downright piratical, Long John Silver, ..... and quite like dark web gold for throwing down and around as pearls before swine.

      The bottom line though is, Don't get Caught Holding a Can of Worms .... Everyone and everything exercising power and energy, sharing future views of present situations, is, if systems in place are up and up to running effectively in the secure shady and shadowy backgrounds at the forefront of secured special access back room operations, surveilled and subject to any kind of action by members and agents of organisations/worlds traditionally left well alone and on their own in the dark, for the very best of all the right reasons in classified COSMIC Top Secret/SCI MagiCircles.... Origin Unknown/Suspected Purpose IMPuritanical Tyrannical/Antidote Defence Unavailable/Feared and Believed Almightily Omnipotent and Omniscient/Overwhelmingly Vital and Virulent.

      Invite their worthy interest and displeasure at your peril.

      And surely the Parliamentary estate worker doesn't expect a temporary exemption from state interest surveillance and blanket immunity from persecution and/or prosecution of their failed and fraudulent decisions/action, rather than them taking cold comfort in realising they always be subjects and objects of a more permanent invasive and pervasive search from such a Secretive Rule as may Reign Supreme and Sublime. The former would be tantamount to encouraging MADness and Mayhem out of the Shadows and into the Street and Main Stream Teams and that would Create Orders of CHAOS and Conflict, neither never before seen nor previously experienced or imagined.

      Is that what you want? Yes or No? All those unsure can register a Maybe and A.N.Others will then decide for you.

      Oh, and as Dominic Cummings, a present Government MoJo and BoJo Leading Advisor, found his name mentioned in this thread [AC/Doctor Syntax], I'd like to take this opportunity to say, in relation to all alien matters both recently shared and previously disclosed for discussion both here and elsewhere in the more private surroundings of stealthy silent steganographic communications, ........ Pull you finger out. Pull out the pin and toss the AWEsome Grenade. IT aint No Toy to Ignore sitting Primed for Future APT Action and NEUKlearer HyperRadioProACTive IT on the desk in your Pending/In Tray

      Just Let IT Be your "England expect... " Trafalgar moment and a worthy starter crowning achievement for that only opens up the entrance hall door to the rooms of many mansions.

    3. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

      Re: May as well leave security services to do as they wish collecting data

      Senior judiciary generally have very sharp intelligence but very few are equipped to probe deeply into data related activity at GCHQ, MI5/6, etc. ...... Long John Silver

      Surely, ideally, none should be equipped to probe deeply into data related activity at GCHQ, MI5/6, etc. Such would only make them an attending accessory to various norms and forms of deep data related activity ...... and that is laden with risks they are not equipped to deal with by any conventional means controlling memes.

      As Spectators and Fans of AWEsome Activities are they most welcome to look, listen and learn of the Future in AI with a Virtual Development Leading Program with Surreal Alienating Projects the Product for and from AI and IT to Present and Realise/Picture and Create and Store as/in a Useful ACTive Memory Device/Hindsight Rich Source ....... now that is a Wondrously Enriched Core Ore the likes of which you would would find it difficult to believe could ever freely exist, engage and prosper precipitately without difficulty for an express ride right to the top of where you are needed to be, program seeding and projects feeding.

  14. ST Silver badge
    Devil

    Now countries have to figure out what to do

    Here's what they'll do: they'll continue doing what they've been doing all along, and they'll lie about it. Maybe you'll get some new and improved lying.

    FTFY. Problem solved. Nothing to see here. Please move along.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ignore the ruling.

    Done. Figured out what they'll do.

  16. N2 Silver badge
    Mushroom

    Ive every expectation

    The data collected will be 'destroyed'

    Then discovered on a disc from a boot sale in the not too distant future...

    Icon for what should happen to it, without delay >

    1. EnviableOne Silver badge
      Big Brother

      Re: Ive every expectation

      like all the DNA records they are supposed to have removed from the plice database by 5 years ago .....

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    ....and in the mean time............

    .............anyone who wants a LITTLE privacy is using:

    - burner phones

    - VPNs

    - private ciphers

    - hijacked wiFi

    .......and who knows what other means in order to ensure that:

    - the "metadata" is either anonymous....or points to someone else

    - the data will be hard to decipher

    .......and in the mean time, the snoops at GCHQ are collecting LOTS of stuff about perfectly legal activities by perfectly ordinary folk.

    This is why, every time there's a horrible outrage in our streets, we get to hear (much later) that the perps were "already known to the authorities".

    It's a clown show......political theatre at its most sublime!

    1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

      Re: ....and in the mean time............

      It's a clown show......political theatre at its most sublime! ..... Anonymous Coward

      And quietly malignant, AC. Is there a coloured pill to take for that common ill ‽ .

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