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Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Another blow for the snoopers' charter

With the exception of the Guardian, most of the national media appear to have ignored this story, but the ruling on Tuesday by the Court of Appeal that the government’s mass digital surveillance regime is unlawful is highly significant.

As reported on the Silicon website, this ruling is a major setback for the Government surveillance scheme, which had faced stiff opposition before it written into law in June 2016. It follows on from a ruling by the European court of justice in December 2016, which deemed Britain’s data surveillance laws illegal.

The court then, condemned the legislation for allowing the indiscriminate collection of electronic communication data from every British citizen, when only the “targeted retention of that data solely for the purpose of fighting serious crime” is permitted:

The Investigatory Powers Act 2016, or Snooper’s Charter 2.0 as it is sometimes known, found itself in the dock after the human rights group Liberty (on behalf of Tom Watson and David Davis), launched a legal challenge to it in 2014.

Davis later withdrew from the case after he entered government, in charge of Brexit negotiations.

And now almost four years later, the Guardian reported that the court of appeals on Tuesday ruled that the powers in the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act 2014 (Dripa), which paved the way for the snooper’s charter legislation, did not restrict the accessing of confidential personal phone and web browsing records to investigations of serious crime.

It thus allowed police and other public bodies to authorise their own access without adequate oversight. And this lack of adequate safeguards around accessing personal data was the main sticking point for the judges.

The three judges reportedly said Dripa was “inconsistent with EU law” because of this lack of safeguards, including the absence of “prior review by a court or independent administrative authority”.

The Liberal Democrats were at the forefront of opposing the legislation in this form in Parliament. They want a full overhaul of the system, one which puts protecting our freedoms and civil liberties at it's very core.

We can be safe and secure by ensuring surveillance is targeted and suspicion-led if our police and intelligence services are given the resources and money they need to do their job. We do not need endless new laws.
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