The EU could save Brits from the worst of the Snooper’s Charter

Last month the UK government finally brought the controversial Snooper’s Charter into law, giving security agencies unprecedented license to carry out surveillance on citizens.

The Investigatory Powers Act binds phone and internet companies to store customer records for 12 months and open them up to the powers that be.

Edward Snowden called the legislation “the most extreme surveillance in the history of western democracy,” and it appears Europe’s highest court agrees with the famed whistleblower.

Following a legal challenge in the UK, the European Court of Justice has intervened ruling such “indiscriminate” collection of data against EU law.

The ECJ said such powers should be used “solely for the purpose of fighting serious crime.”

Related: The Snooper’s Charter is now law – here’s what you need to know

The case will now be referred back to the UK Court of Appeal, with opponents of the bill claiming the EU judges’ ruling proves the government “overstepped the mark.”

Labour deputy leader Tom Watson said: “This ruling shows it’s counter-productive to rush new laws through Parliament without a proper scrutiny.”

Meanwhile, the Home Office says it is “disappointed” in the ruling and will be presenting “robust arguments” at the forthcoming case.

In a statement it 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.”

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