UK’s Snoopers’ Charter
Privacy and data protection
The UK Investigatory Powers Act (IPA) grants the government power to collect and store information about everything people do and say online. This includes emails, texts, calls, location data and internet history, and enables the government to hack into phones and computers. The government is allowed to do this whether or not someone is suspected of criminal activity. Not only does this law intrude upon the private life of all individuals, it also interferes with the rights of journalists and lawyers to communicate confidentially with sources and clients respectively. Liberty took a case to the UK High Court aiming to have the Act repealed.
In July 2019, the court ruled against Liberty and upheld the legality of the IPA. Liberty are preparing an appeal, but have been granted an extension to wait until a decision has been reached by the European Court of Human Rights in a separate, but related case.
Supported by Liberty’s strong advocacy campaign, interest around the case is high, helping to raise public awareness about the government’s surveillance activities. During the period leading up to the High Court case, Liberty received over 100 queries from the public relating to surveillance.
A separate outcome is that the litigation revealed that MI5, the UK’s Security Service, had unlawfully mishandled personal data. Liberty and Privacy International have teamed up to start a separate case against MI5 for this illegality.
"The UK Investigatory Powers Act (IPA) grants the government power to collect and store information about everything people do and say online"
For the courts to rule that the current surveillance regime violates the rights to privacy and free expression and for the UK government to implement a surveillance system in the UK that is targeted and respects human rights.