Investigatory Powers Tribunal Challenges UK Surveillance

Jul 14, 2014

The Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT) is set to lead an historic legal challenge against the UK government conducting mass Internet surveillance.

The organisation is the only of its kind in the country. It investigates claims against the Intelligence Services such as MI5, MI6 and the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ).

From 14th-18th July, the Tribunal says it will be attending the Royal Courts of Justice to hear cases brought against the intelligence agencies in respect of alleged interception activity involving UK and US access to communications.

Those complaining are human rights charity Amnesty International, privacy campaigners Privacy International and civil liberties group Liberty.

“This week’s hearing will be the first time that these UK government agencies, including the notoriously shady GCHQ, have appeared in a public hearing to answer direct allegations and state their position on the mass surveillance operations as a whole, since [Edward Snowden’s] revelations,” claimed Amnesty International.

“As legislation is introduced over one crack in the crumbling surveillance state, another faces challenge,” claimed Liberty’s legal director James Welch.

“Not content with forcing service providers to keep details of our calls and browsing histories, the government is fighting to retain the right to trawl through our communications with anyone outside and many inside the country.

“When will it learn that it is neither ethical nor efficient to turn everyone into suspects,” Welch added.

The legal challenge follows last week’s new that Prime Minister David Cameron is attempting to rush “emergency surveillance laws” through Parliament.

Government “Not Just Retaining Powers Already Held”

Following an EU ruling that threatened government’s ability to retain communications data law, Ministers are attempting to retain the right to hold citizens’ call logs and Internet usage data.

The PM claims that they are simply protecting existing rights in a bid to protect the UK from terrorism and criminal activity.

However, numerous organisations have questioned the move – as well as those responsible for the IPT investigation, Open Rights Group and Big Brother Watch have also spoken out.

“The government is tacitly admitting that our current data retention laws are illegal and that they are required to re-legislate,” claimed Open Rights Group executive director Jim Killock.

“The European Court has ruled that data retention should be limited and blanket retention cannot be justified because it interferes with our right to privacy,” Killock added.




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