Snooper's Charter Under Fire - Investigatory Bill Faces Legal Challenge

Saturday, 14 January 2017
by Graham Pierrepoint -

Late last year, it was confirmed that a controversial piece of UK legislation would come into effect, allowing for the UK government and various bodies to gain access to citizens’ internet browsing history with only a simple request – and that internet service providers would need to start storing data for up to 12 months at any given time. The new law will also provide agencies and more besides with the ability to hack computers and devices if and where declared necessary – a move which has caused more than a stir in the media, and an outpouring of concern from those hoping to hold onto their privacy. The new law, too, will likely mean a huge investment on behalf of internet service providers – as they will be required to set up a whole new method of capturing data and storing it for the periods requested of them. Will this also mean that broadband charges go up for UK citizens? It’s too early to say – but, thankfully for many, there is a legal defence mounting which will aim to take the British government to task on the new legislation.

Liberty, a human rights organisation who has been reporting on and is vehemently opposed to the bill (known in the UK media by the nickname of the ‘Snooper’s Charter’), took to law-based crowdfunding site CrowdJustice in an effort to welcome donations towards a legal battle which will oppose the bill becoming law. The group had initially hoped to reach £10,000 as a goal in donations over a month – but in only a few days, they have amassed over £40,000 – and, at the time of writing, are rapidly approaching a stretch goal of £50,000 with three weeks left on their campaign clock. This is great news for the campaign, as it is not only offering them financial support for campaigning and for court fees should they apply, but it is also raising a huge amount of interest and awareness.

Liberty are confident that their case will be accepted and that they will argue for a complete judicial review of the new law, on the grounds that it is a highly extreme methodology of keeping tabs on would-be criminal activity. It is not the first blow to the new law – last month, the European Court of Justice ruled that the law may in fact be illegal, as it requests that evidence be collated on all citizens before being found guilty – whereas a model that allowed Services to focus on suspects would be far more justifiable.

It’s looking to be a difficult year ahead for UK Prime Minister Theresa May, who at the time of writing is waiting to hear back from the Supreme Court on whether or not MPs will need to vote for Brexit negotiations to start – and with her target of triggering Article 50 in March looming by the day, this may prove to be a very interesting spring for British politics.

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