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Civil Liberties Group Targets Crowdfunded Court Challenge Against Snoopers’ Charter

As News Editor of Silicon UK, Roland keeps a keen eye on the daily tech news coverage for the site, while also focusing on stories around cyber security, public sector IT, innovation, AI, and gadgets.

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Liberty wants to put the core parts of the Investigatory Powers Act to the legal test

Civil liberties and human rights group Liberty has launched a crowdfunded legal challenge against the Investigatory Powers Act, commonly known Snoopers’ Charter.

Liberty is looking for a Hight Court judicial review of the core of the bulk powers of the Snoopers’ Charter with how the UK government plans to monitort the web history, email, text and phone records of its citizens.

Crowdfunding court cases

crowdjusticeIn a rather new take on generating the funds needed to levee such a case against the government, Liberty is turning to the public donations via the crowdfunding platform CrowdJustice.

“Last year, this government exploited fear and distraction to quietly create the most extreme surveillance regime of any democracy in history. Hundreds of thousands of people have since called for this Act’s repeal because they see it for what it is – an unprecedented, unjustified assault on our freedom,” said Martha Spurrier, director of Liberty.

“We hope anybody with an interest in defending our democracy, privacy, press freedom, fair trials, protest rights, free speech and the safety and cybersecurity of everyone in the UK will support this crowdfunded challenge, and make 2017 the year we reclaim our rights.”

The group will look to press the government on the legality and threat to public rights on the bulk hacking of electronic devices like computers and smartphones, the bulk interception of texts, emails and calls, the freedom to carryout bulk acquisition of everybody’s communications data and Intenret history, and the abilities to create “bulk personal datasets” using linked information gleaned from public and private sector sources.  

Liberty was particularly harsh in how the Investigatory Powers Act was passed by Parliament, with is claiming it was made an act during “an atmosphere of shambolic political opposition”, with the government failing to provide any evidence where the need for such indiscriminate powers were lawful or necessary to prevent or detect crime.

The legal challenge launch comes at a time when the EU Court of Justice rendered parts of the Investigatory Powers Act a effectively unlawful. The Snoopers Charter has also been roundly lambasted by key figures in the technology industry and by advocates of privacy.

In response to queries from Silicon, the Home Office noted that the Investigatory Powers Act had been thoroughly scrutinised before  being passed, and sent a statement by security minister Ben Wallace. 

“The Investigatory Powers Act protects both our privacy and our security,” said Wallace. “Far from being passed quietly, the Act underwent unprecedented Parliamentary scrutiny before becoming law. It was also the result of three independent reports, all of which concluded a new law was needed. The Act was passed with cross party support and is the will of Parliament.

“The Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation, David Anderson QC, found that the ability to collect data in bulk is a crucial tool used by the security and intelligence agencies to generate intelligence about threats that cannot be acquired by more targeted means. We will vigorously defend these vital powers that help to keep our families, communities and country safe.”

Time will tell if a successful challenge can be bought against the Snoopers’ Charter, given it managed to make its way through Parliament, albeit with a changes and hurdles put in its way to becoming an act.

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