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Liberty Lose High Court Challenge vs UK Internet Snooping Law

Monday, July 29th, 2019 (1:16 pm) - Score 1,269
internet and uk computer law

The UK High Court has dismissed Liberty‘s legal challenge against the Government’s bulk data retention policy in its 2016 Investigatory Powers Act (IPAct), which is a mass surveillance approach that also catches innocent peoples communications data (i.e. phone, mobile and internet activity). The group expects to appeal.

The IPAct supports various measures such as targeted interceptions of communications, computer hacking for investigations and it forces providers (e.g. phone, mobile and fixed line broadband ISPs) to log the basic calls / internet activity of all their customers for up to 12 months (Internet Connection Records). The actual content of your communications can only be accessed upon receipt of a warrant.

However, despite the case revealing some serious lapses in compliance by MI5 (here), Liberty’s challenge – which believed that the IPAct’s powers were too broad and thus breached the citizens’ rights to privacy and freedom of expression as enshrined by the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) – was dismissed by Lord Justice Singh and Mr Justice Holgate.

In their summing up the judges noted how the very fact that MI5’s failings had come to light and were being acted upon showed that the safeguards built in to the IPAct worked. The ruling also found that the IPAct did not breach journalists’ freedom of expression and included adequate protection.

Ruling Summary:

“We have reached the conclusion that the safeguards in Investigatory Powers Act are sufficient to prevent the risk of abuse of discretionary power and the Act is therefore not incompatible with the (ECHR) on the ground that it does not comply with the concept of law.”

Liberty are obviously disappointed with the judgement and a spokesperson said it “allows the Government to continue to spy on every one of us, violating our rights to privacy and free expression.” The group plans to appeal today’s judgement in the courts.

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Mark Jackson
By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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8 Responses
  1. Avatar RICK

    Get a VPN – not all VPN providers are the same and free ones are best avoided in my experience ; some of the paid for ones are dodgy too – worth researching first. You might also want to consider dumping your android/apple “smart” phone too and get a feature phone instead -If possible avoid products and services from Apple, Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Intel, Twitter, Facebook, to name but a few – or you can be of the mindset “i have got nothing to hide” and take your chances – you decide whilst you still can.

  2. Avatar Sam

    A VPN is a bit extreme in this country, unless you are doing something illegal (and I include copyright theft in that).

    The only bit of IPAct I disagree with are DNS logs (ICR’s, they’re referred to in the text) for 12 months. I don’t even have a problem with that, as such, its the amount of government departments that have access without a warrant:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Investigatory_Powers_Act_2016#Authorities_allowed_to_access_Internet_connection_records

    It’s a disgrace. Why should some numpty in the Gambling commission be able to see my internet history if they feel like it? It should be restricted to security services and police, with a warrant.

    However, DoH or DoT solves the problem. Sorted.

  3. Avatar Fred

    Well, I use a VPN because I have plenty to hide. The trouble is that too many organizations are profiling you. UK councils are using profiling systems and so are the police. I suspect it is not just me who thinks using big data to ‘predict’ who is likely too commit a crime is crazy. The Cambridge Analytica scandal was a terrible attack on democracy. I personally won’t use Facebook, Twitter etc. Sadly it is impossible not too be tracked digitally but you can limit exposure. I might make the jump back to IOS because I think Apple are slightly better on the privacy front.

  4. Avatar rupert

    demolish youre house and run away, thats another good fix.

    • Avatar Michael David Fleetwood

      Me personally I don’t really see the point in choosing to live like a hermit through depriving myself of social media services as this would mean that the eavesdroppers – whomever they are – have beaten me! Even though I’m an electronic harassment victim myself I still choose to live my life using anything or everything that keeps me in communication with the outside world, regardless of consequences – unless of course it’s unnecessary such as 5G!

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