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UK surveillance bill, domestic abuse law, minimum alcohol pricing plan

Legal issues making the news

Apple: UK surveillance bill 'threatens to hurt law-abiding citizens'

Apple has raised concerns about the UK government's controversial new Investigatory Powers Bill, otherwise known as the Snooper's Charter, saying it could hurt law-abiding citizens.

In a rare intervention into British politics, Apple made a submission to the committee drafting the new bill, which could give security agencies greater surveillance powers.

Mobile messengers like Apple's iMessage, WhatsApp and Snapchat encrypt messages while Line recently added encryption, too. Encryption adds a layer of difficulty for authorities and the British government has been pushing for firms to allow backdoor access.

Apple's eight-page submission tackles three key areas: encryption, extra-territoriality and equipment interference.

The statement warns that governments won't know in advance which individuals will become targets of an investigation, meaning encryption would be compromised for all users in an effort to combat "the few bad actors" who have a "variety of ways" to carry out attacks.

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New domestic abuse law comes into force

Domestic abusers who control victims via social media or spy on them online could face up to five years in prison under a new law which is now in force.

The legislation will target those who subject spouses, partners and family members to psychological and emotional torment but stop short of violence.

It paves the way for charges in cases where there is evidence of repeated "controlling or coercive behaviour".

The Women's Aid charity said it was a "landmark moment" in tackling abuse.

The new law, brought into force in England and Wales, follows a Home Office consultation in which 85% of participants said the existing law did not provide sufficient protection.

It comes as Citizens Advice published figures showing a 24% rise in those seeking advice for domestic abuse.

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Minimum alcohol pricing plan 'may breach EU law'

A European court has said the Scottish government's case for a minimum unit price for alcohol is contrary to EU law if other tax options exist.

The European Court of Justice ruling instead recommends the introduction of alternative tax measures.

The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon have both welcomed the ruling.

The legislation to bring in a minimum price of 50p per unit was passed by the Scottish Parliament in May 2012.

A legal challenge was brought by the SWA, which argued the Scottish government's legislation breached European law.

The European court ruling said: "The Court of Justice considers that the effect of the Scottish legislation is significantly to restrict the market, and this might be avoided by the introduction of a tax measure designed to increase the price of alcohol instead of a measure imposing a minimum price per unit of alcohol."

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