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School of Law

Snooper’s charter at stake in High Court battle


Campaigners are pressing for the “snoopers’ charter” to be torn up and for ministers to start again on rules governing investigatory powers and data retention. The debate came to a head this week as Liberty, the civil rights organisation, brought a High Court judicial review claiming that the Investigatory Powers Act 2016 “created the most intrusive and sweeping state surveillance regime of any democracy”. Yet Eric King, a specialist in security law and a lecturer at Queen Mary University of London, predicts that Liberty’s judicial review is so wide-ranging that its ruling will resolve little. “This is a mammoth tanks-on-the-lawn case,” he says. “The act is permitting practices that are untested in the courts. The government’s view is that the legislation sets out transparently what they are doing, while acknowledging there is some room for improvement. But from the human rights campaigners’ point of view, every bit of the act is trouble.”

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