The UK High Court has struck down a case brought by the National Council for Civil Liberties, more commonly known as Liberty, alleging that the so-called Snooper's Charter is in breach of human rights legislation.
Published back in 2015 under the auspice of then-Prime Minister Theresa May, the Investigatory Powers Bill - known by critics as the Snooper's Charter - was designed to replace the defeated Communications Data Bill of 2012. Under the terms as published, the Bill was claimed to 'not impose any additional requirements in relation to encryption over and above the existing obligations in RIPA [Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act]' but extended the right of 'equipment interference' to cover law enforcement and the armed forces in addition to the security services. The Bill also includes a requirement for internet service providers to store browsing history for a rolling twelve month period and accessible upon request from security services and law enforcement, as well as adding a new criminal offence of 'knowingly or recklessly obtaining communications data from a telecommunications operator without lawful authority.'
The Bill was the focus of a court case brought by campaign group the National Council for Civil Liberties, better known as Liberty, alleging that it represented a breach of human rights. That argument has now been struck down by the High Court, which disagreed with Liberty's claim that the Investigatory Powers Bill - now an Act of Parliament - did not include sufficient safeguards against abuses of human rights.
'This disappointing judgment allows the government to continue to spy on every one of us, violating our rights to privacy and free expression. We will challenge this judgment in the courts, and keep fighting for a targeted surveillance regime that respects our rights,' claims Liberty lawyer Megan Goulding on the ruling. 'These bulk surveillance powers allow the state to hoover up the messages, calls and web history of hordes of ordinary people who are not suspected of any wrong-doing.
'The Court recognised the seriousness of MI5’s unlawful handling of our data, which only emerged as a result of this litigation. The security services have shown that they cannot be trusted to keep our data safe and respect our rights.'
The Investigatory Powers Act (IP Act) was enacted as an Act of Parliament by Royal Assent in November 2016.
May 5 2021 | 09:30