UK’s “Snooper’s Charter” survives privacy court challenge

  • TECH
  • Monday, 29 Jul 2019

Union flags fly near the The Elizabeth Tower, commonly known Big Ben, and the Houses of Parliament in London on February 1, 2017. British MPs are expected Wednesday to approve the first stage of a bill empowering Prime Minister Theresa May to start pulling Britain out of the European Union. Ahead of the vote, which was scheduled to take place at 7:00 pm (1900 GMT), MPs were debating the legislation which would allow the government to trigger Article 50 of the EU's Lisbon Treaty, formally beginning two years of exit negotiations. / AFP PHOTO / Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS

The so-called Snooper’s Charter, which allows the UK government to access data from emails and mobile phones, survived a court challenge from a privacy group. 

A pair of UK judges dismissed the lawsuit Monday, saying they weren’t persuaded that the legislation is incompatible with European Union rules. Judge Rabinder Singh said the 2016 Investigatory Powers Act included several “safeguards against the possible abuse of power”. 

Liberty, a civil rights group, said in the lawsuit that the law breaches citizens’ rights to privacy and free expression. The case centred on UK rules that allow the state to store “vast data sets” taken from electronic devices that mostly contain “information of no relevance to national security”, according to the campaign group. 

Megan Goulding, an attorney for Liberty, said the judgment “allows the government to continue to spy on every one of us, violating our rights to privacy and free expression”. The group will appeal the ruling, she said. 

The government said the powers are “of critical importance” to protect the public from terrorism, hostile state activity and serious and organised crime, and they “strike an appropriate balance between security and individual privacy”, according to its filings for the trial. 

The Home Office declined to immediately comment after the ruling. – Bloomberg

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