December 07, 2023
Snooper’s Charter 2.0: More snooping, fewer safeguards – RSI’s briefing on the Investigatory Powers (Amendment) Bill
Through the Investigatory Powers (Amendment) Bill, the government plans to water down the already weak safeguards meant to protect us against the security services when they could abuse our personal information. With the government seemingly intent on rushing this harmful legislation through Parliament, RSI provides a brief overview of the (il)legality of these proposals in the attached brief.
In sum, the Bill suffers from three fundamental flaws that means that it may violate the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR):
The government has ignored well documented failures in the way the security services hold surveillance data, instead deciding to reduce the already weak safeguards that prevent them from using our data unlawfully;
The government’s legal analysis relies on some people losing their privacy because they do not have a ‘reasonable expectation of privacy’ – a legal concept that the European Court of Human Rights has rejected; and
The government has not explained why these interferences with our privacy are necessary, as opposed to merely ‘convenient’.
In a democracy, privacy is essential: if the government can spy on people any time it likes, then it will be far too powerful and dissent will become impossible. Instead of considering the risks to our privacy and therefore to democracy in the UK, it is trying to rush through legislation that could lead to significant harms. This sets the UK up for another lengthy court battle over its surveillance regime.
Rather than rushing its reforms through Parliament with little scrutiny, the government should drop the Bill. It should then reform the IPA as a whole and otherwise ensure that all surveillance respects our rights.
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