Mass surveillance and Snoopers' Charter

Update on Liberty’s legal challenge against the Investigatory Powers Act 2016

Posted on 04 Aug 2023

Today (Friday 4 August), the Court of Appeal handed down its judgment in the latest stage of Liberty’s legal action challenging the Investigatory Powers Act – commonly known as the Snoopers’ Charter.

The Court upheld Liberty’s argument that the regime for sharing material from bulk personal datasets with overseas states is unlawful.

But the Court ruled against Liberty’s arguments on several other grounds, including on legal protections given to journalists. It also sent another point – looking at safeguards for journalistic material collected through bulk hacking by the intelligence agencies – back to the Divisional Court to be heard again.

Liberty welcomes further examination by the courts on the adequacy of journalists’ safeguards in the context of bulk hacking.

Commenting on the case, Megan Goulding, Lawyer at Liberty, said: 

“It is vital we all have control over our private information, and that the Government respects our rights to privacy and freedom of expression.

The Snoopers’ Charter strips away our fundamental rights and allows the Government to spy on the public en masse – including gaining access to confidential communications between lawyers and clients, and journalists and sources.

“We are disappointed with the Court’s ruling today. As we have shown over the course of this legal challenge, the Snoopers’ Charter is an invasive piece of legislation which infringes our rights.

“Mass surveillance does not make us safer. It fundamentally threatens and undermines our democracy, and gifts extraordinary power to the state at our expense. We urge the Government to ensure that any state surveillance is targeted, proportionate and does not interfere with our rights.”

Liberty’s case against the Snoopers’ Charter started in 2016, and the human rights organisation is assessing further action following today’s judgment.

A full explainer of Liberty’s legal action against the Government can be found here.

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