Mass surveillance and Snoopers' Charter

Legal challenge: Investigatory Powers Act

We’re in the middle of a case against the Government because its Investigatory Powers Act (the Snoopers’ Charter) gives the police and security services powers to spy on everyone whether or not we’re suspected of wrongdoing.

We’re arguing these ‘bulk powers’ violate rights to privacy and freedom of expression, and there are insufficient safeguards in the Act to protect confidential journalistic sources and legal material.

In April 2018, the High Court said the Act was incompatible with EU law in the way that it allowed state agencies to access data held by telecommunications operators, and the Act was amended.

But in June 2019, the Court said the ‘bulk powers’ don’t breach privacy and free expression rights and the Act does contain sufficient safeguards for journalistic and legal communications.

We are appealing against that decision.

In October 2020, the EU Court of Justice gave its judgment in a related surveillance case brought by Privacy International. The Court ruled against the UK Government, finding that mass data collection and retention practices must comply with EU privacy safeguards.

Following this judgment, Liberty’s challenge to ‘bulk powers’ based on EU law is back underway and will be in Court in May 2022.

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