The UK government’s Investigatory Powers Bill – aka, the Snoopers Charter – has been a controversial and polarizing piece of legislation ever since it was adopted into law in 2016 during Theresa May’s government.
There have since been several legal attempts to challenge the bill – some of them successful to the extent that the legislation had to be amended as a consequence of court rulings.
However, the latest bid to prove that the bill was opening the floodgates for human rights violations of UK citizens through mass surveillance has failed in court.
The case was brought by Liberty, a civil rights group, who claimed that the act lets the government spy on everyone in the country.
The group argued that the broad and invasive powers given to the authorities with the Snooper’s Charter result in a breach of human rights, while not having proper mechanisms to prevent any abuse of power.
But the court disagreed, saying that the bill had incorporated into it “several safeguards against the possible abuse of power.”
The bill allows UK’s secret services to eavesdrop on computers and mobile devices, and forces company to help in this, including by circumventing encryption protections.
Furthermore, spy agencies can collect and retain vast amounts of personal data. In addition to the potential for abuse of these massive data-sets, there’s the problem of the lax storage and safekeeping standards.
The UK’s domestic spy agency, MI5, recently admitted that it had “lost control of its data storage operations.”
However, the UK court was unimpressed by Liberty’s arguments and ruled that the Snooper’s Charter was in line with the country’s laws designed to protect human rights.
Liberty’s lawyer Megan Goulding said after the decision was announced that the information about MI5’s mishandling of data only came to light thanks to the legal case they had launched and that this proved the agencies in charge “cannot be trusted to keep our data safe and respect our rights.”
And while she found the outcome of the case to be disappointing, Goulding also vowed the group – who have in the past had some success in their legal battles against the charter – would continue to fight by challenging the latest judgment in the courts.
“These bulk surveillance powers allow the state to hoover up the messages, calls and web history of hordes of ordinary people who are not suspected of any wrongdoing,” the lawyer said.