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High Court turns down ‘Snooper’s Charter’ challenge


Mark Say Managing Editor

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The High Court has turned down a challenge against the Government’s so called ‘Snooper’s Charter’ by human rights organisations Liberty.

It has ruled that surveillance powers granted under the Investigatory Powers Act, which include accessing and storing personal digital information under judicial warrant, are lawful.

Liberty had brought the case after the investigatory powers commissioner found that security service MI5 had handled large amounts of personal data unlawfully, and argued that the act is incompatible with elements of the European Convention of Human Rights.

It claimed that the act does not contain sufficient safeguards against possible abuses of the powers to collect and retain personal data.

But the court, while acknowledging the concerns of the investigatory powers commissioner, was not persuaded of the acts’ incompatibility with the convention. Its ruling said the evidence submitted did not prove the safeguards were insufficient.

Fair balance

Defending the case, the Home Office had said the act strikes a fair balance between the rights of the individual and the general interest of the community.

Liberty’s lawyer, Megan Goulding, said it will challenge the judgement further in the courts.

“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,” she said. 

“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.”

Image: Electronic Frontier Foundation graphic, Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 through Wikimedia

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