High Court asked to rule against IPA

The Government’s latest surveillance charter faces a landmark legal challenge for wanting to access data “far beyond serious crime” for reasons unrelated to investigating terror.

Feb 27, 2018
By Nick Hudson

Human rights campaign group Liberty is calling on the High Court to rule against the Investigatory Powers Act (IPA) at a scheduled two-day hearing in London on Tuesday (February 27).

Lawyers for the group will argue that government powers to order private companies to store everyone’s communications data and internet history, so it can be accessed by police and state agencies, violates the public’s right to privacy.

Three senior judges concluded the IPA’s predecessor – the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act 2014 – was “inconsistent” with European Union law following a challenge by Labour deputy leader Tom Watson and campaigners, which was supported by Liberty. It was repealed on December 31, 2016

Liberty claims its replacement not only replicates but “vastly expands” mass surveillance powers.

The group says the new act allows the storage of and access to data with no independent authorisation, for purposes extended “far beyond serious crime”, and for reasons that have nothing to do with investigating terrorism.

“Instead we got the Investigatory Powers Act, the most invasive surveillance regime of any democracy in the world,” a spokesperson added.

“It introduced staggering state spying powers that give the Government access to everybody’s web histories, email, text and phone records.

“It’s made us less safe and less free – undermining our privacy, free press, free speech, protest rights, protections for journalists’ sources and whistle-blowers and legal and patient confidentiality.

“Our message to the Government is straightforward – you’re not above the law.

“Stop ignoring the courts, stop knowingly violating people’s rights and get on with building a targeted surveillance system that protects our safety, our cyber-security and our rights.”

The legal challenge, which will be heard by Lord Justice Singh?and Mr Justice Holgate on Tuesday and Wednesday (February 28), has been crowdfunded by supporters who raised £50,000.

The Government is defending the case and says the powers are “necessary and proportionate”.

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