On the 28th February 2017, Liberty launched judicial review legal proceedings against the Government to challenge the legality of the Snoopers Charter.
The legislation is officially know as the Investigatory Powers Act 2016.
The Snoopers Charter
The Snoopers Charter made ‘Big Brother’ Orwellian style mass state surveillance a reality in this country.
Under the Snoopers Charter, the state can now legally monitor your emails, your texts, your web history, and your phone records. They can also hack into your computer and phones. Only the flimsiest of excuses is required. There is practically no oversight whatsoever.
The Snoopers Charter was enacted late last year with little opposition from a spineless parliament. It was also enacted despite a petition that had been signed by over 200,000 people. The Government was able to push the Snoopers Charter through by using and exploiting concerns about terrorism.
The Implications of the Snoopers Charter for Civil Liberties and Human Rights
Internet and telecoms companies are obliged to retain every users communications data for 12 months under the Snoopers Charter. Communications data includes emails, internet browsing history, phone calls, IMs, text messages, and emails.
48 diffrerent agencies and organisations have unfettered access to the data. Moreover, all of them can now legally monitor your private internet browsing activities, emails, and phone use. The list even includes the NHS, the Ambulance Service, and the Food Standards Agency! Obviously, it is ludicrous that such agencies have these powers. However, as stated, only the flimsiest of excuses is required, and there is practically no oversight.
The Snoopers Charter has wider implications, given the various data leaks, hacking scandals, and data thefts over the last decade. Most worrying is the potential for fraud, identity theft, and other criminal activity.
Big Brother Watch point out that “our online searches can reveal more about us than we realise. They can reveal our health and finances, our sexuality, race, religion, age, location, family, friends and work connections……They can also reveal our internal thoughts, anxieties and desires, information we won’t even share with the people we trust the most.“
European Court of Justice Ruling Against The Snoopers Charter
The European Court of Justice ruled in December 2016 that the “general and indiscriminate retention” of data, such as internet history, emails, and phone records, is illegal. It stated that only targeted information gathering was justified.
The Court stated that “in today’s judgment, the Court’s answer is that EU law precludes national legislation that prescribes general and indiscriminate retention of data…The interference by national legislation that provides for the retention of traffic data and location data with that right must therefore be considered to be particularly serious. The fact that the data is retained without the users of electronic communications services being informed of the fact is likely to cause the persons concerned to feel that their private lives are the subject of constant surveillance. Consequently, only the objective of fighting serious crime is capable of justifying such interference.“
The ruling means that the case will now revert back to the UK Court of Appeal to determine.
Liberty Statement on the Snoopers Charter Legal Proceedings
In a statement about the judicial review proceedings, Silkie Carlo of Liberty said that “this is our first step towards getting rid of the most intrusive surveillance regime of any democracy in history. The powers we’re fighting undermine everything that’s core to our freedom and democracy – our right to protest, to express ourselves freely and to a fair trial, our free press, privacy and cybersecurity. But with so much public support behind us, we’re hopeful we will be able to persuade our courts to restrain the more authoritarian tendencies of this Government.“
A Spineless Parliament That Failed To Oppose The Snoopers Charter
It is appalling that this Government has used and exploited terrorist atrocities to justify the Snoopers Charter. In doing so, they have turned this country into a ‘Big Brother’ Orwellian mass surveillance state. Moreover, this legislation represents a resounding victory for the terrorists. They have succeeded where Hitler failed, by getting this country to abandon many of its freedoms and civil liberties. Millions fought and died to protect these freedoms and civil liberties in two world wars. Those responsible within the Government for the Snoopers Charter are a national disgrace. So are the spineless MP’s who did little to oppose it. They are both an affront to the memory of those who died in those wars.