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The Investigatory Powers Tribunal and Bulk Communications Data Acquisition: Lacking Respect for the Right to Privacy and Fundamental Rights?

Matthew White


In 2016, the Grand Chamber of the Court of Justice of the European Union in Tele2 and Watson ruled that blanket indiscriminate data retention was incompatible with European Union law. This ruling did not mean that the Court of Justice’s interpretation of the requirements of the Charter of Fundamental Rights was ‘limited only to this set of surveillance measures.’ Thus, a year later, the Investigatory Powers Tribunal in Privacy International v the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs and Others handed down a judgment regarding the lawfulness under EU law of the acquisition and use of Bulk Communications Data under s.94 of the Telecommunications Act 1984. The Investigatory Powers Tribunal subsequently referred this matter to the Court of Justice. This article’s primary focus is not with the preliminary reference itself, but the underlying flawed logic of the Investigatory Powers Tribunal’s reasoning with regards to privacy which subsequently weakens fundamental rights protection.
Keywords: Privacy | Article 8 ECHR | Respect | Fundamental Rights

Sheffield Hallam University. For Correspondence: <>


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