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Snoopers’ Charter: Liberty receives High Court permission to challenge ‘authoritarian’ IP Act

HUMAN RIGHTS GROUP Liberty has been given the thumbs up from the High Court to challenge the UK Investigatory Powers Act (IP Act), better known as the Snoopers’ Charter. 

Liberty launched its legal challenge against the Snoopers’ Charter back in March after a successful crowdfunding campaign gave it the dollar to do so. The group has so far raised more than £53,000. 

Like Privacy International, Liberty is calling out the government for failing to implement an ECJ ruling last year. This followed a case brought by Labour MP Tom Watson and Conservative MP David Davis, in which the ECJ ruled that “only the targeted retention of that data solely for the purpose of fighting serious crime” was permissible.

Intelligence services argue, however, that they would be unable to carry out complex and fast-moving investigations, for example, to identify members of a terrorist group, if they had to rely on targeted surveillance on suspects, rather than mass collection of data.

The High Court has also said that Liberty can seek permission to challenge three other parts of the IP Act once the Government publishes further codes of practice, or by March 2018 at the latest. 

These include bulk and ‘thematic hacking’; bulk interception and acquisition of communications content; and bulk personal datasets, which allows agencies to acquire and link vast databases held by the public or private sector

Martha Spurrier, director of Liberty, said:We’re delighted to have been granted permission to challenge this authoritarian surveillance regime.

“It’s become clearer than ever in recent months that this law is not fit for purpose. The government doesn’t need to spy on the entire population to fight terrorism. All that does is undermine the very rights, freedoms and democracy terrorists seek to destroy.

“And as increasingly frequent hacking attacks bring businesses and public bodies to their knees, our government’s obsession with storing vast amounts of sensitive information about every single one of us looks dangerously irresponsible.

“If they truly want to keep us safe and protect our cybersecurity, they urgently need to face up to reality and focus on closely monitoring those who pose a serious threat.” µ

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