Appeal against government mass surveillance loses in High Court


The human rights group Liberty has failed in its legal bid to put an end to the Investigatory Powers Act.

The law permits mass monitoring of connected devices to enable intelligence agencies to extend surveillance and government knowledge. But the legislation, branded the “Snoopers’ Charter” by its detractors has come under heavy criticism.

Liberty has been leading the charge to bring down the Investigatory Powers Act, claiming that it allows legalised mass hacking to take place.

Earlier this week, the High Court heard how the extent of the new legislation is lawful, a ruling that Liberty says it intends to appeal against.

Read more: Surveillance of data contravenes privacy, High Court hears

Lawyers representing the human rights activists say that information harvested by UK security agencies includes details such as personal data, browsing histories, apps that individuals have downloaded, login credentials and location data.

Liberty claimed human rights law was being violated because the warrants involved did not cover gathering data in bulk. As such, the information would be stored for far longer than the expiry of the warrant.

The National Union of Journalists supported the case, saying that more safeguards need to be put in place to protect confidential sources used by journalists.

However, Liberty’s claim was dismissed, with the High Court hearing that the Act was sound.

“We have reached the conclusion that the safeguards in [IPA] are sufficient to prevent the risk of abuse of discretionary power and the Act is therefore not incompatible with the [European Convention on Human Rights] on the ground that it does not comply with the concept of law,” the judges’ ruling said.

Representing the government, Sir James Eadie QC, said the IPA strikes appropriate balance between security and individual privacy”, and underlined how the law’s powers are of “critical importance to, and are effective in securing, the protection of the public”.

Liberty lawyer, Megan Goulding said:

“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.”

“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 wrongdoing.”

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