Mass surveillance and Snoopers' Charter

Legal challenge: 10 NGOs

After Edward Snowden revealed in 2013 that the UK Government was spying on ordinary people not suspected of wrongdoing, Liberty and nine other non-governmental organisations (NGOs) challenged the surveillance regime in the Investigatory Powers Tribunal.

We argued the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act  was unlawful because allowing bulk interception of ordinary people’s communications violated rights to privacy and freedom of expression.

The Tribunal ruled against us.

We appealed that decision to the European Court of Human Rights, which said in September 2018 that the surveillance regime did violate our rights and didn’t contain sufficient safeguards to protect confidential journalistic sources.

Even though we won, the 10 NGOs appealed this judgment in July 2019, asking the European Court’s Grand Chamber to go further and say bulk interception of communications is inherently disproportionate and unlawful.

The Grand Chamber ruled in May 2021 in our favour.

Like the previous court, the Grand Chamber ruled that the surveillance regime had insufficient safeguards. However, it also ruled that bulk interception should in principle be allowed.

Grand Chamber judgment – 10 NGOs

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