THE COURT OF APPEAL has ruled the UK government's surveillance regime as "unlawful" as a result of a legal challenge brought by the Labour MP Tom Watson.
Watson, represented by human rights campaign group Liberty, launched a legal challenge against the human rights-trampling Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act (DRIPA) back in 2014.
He argued that the bill, which was rushed through parliament with panicked terms about the erosion of government power and the rise of cybercriminality, breached British people's rights and was "incompatible" with both the European Convention on Human Rights and the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights.
"The Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act does not answer the concerns of many that the blanket retention of personal data is a breach of fundamental rights to privacy," he said at the time.
On Tuesday, Liberty announced that the Court of Appeals has sided with the challenge, ruling that, that DRIPA broke the law and breached British people's rights.
Judges said the now-defunct law "did not restrict access to this data, in the context of the investigation and prosecution of crime, to the purpose of fighting serious crime, and "let police and public bodies authorise their own access, instead of subjecting access requests to prior authorisation by a court or independent body."
Liberty says that the ruling means that significant parts of the Investigatory Powers Act 2016, better known as the 'Snoopers' Charter,' are effectively unlawful and must be urgently changed.
While the government has already put some safeguards in place in anticipation of Tuesday's ruling, Liberty has slammed the "half-baked plans" that "do not even fully comply with past court rulings requiring mandatory safeguards."
Liberty director Martha Spurrier said: "The government must now bring forward changes to the Investigatory Powers Act to ensure that hundreds of thousands of people, many of whom are innocent victims or witnesses to crime, are protected by a system of independent approval for access to communications data.
"I'm proud to have played my part in safeguarding citizen's fundamental rights," she added.
Watson is also calling for the government to act, saying: "This legislation was flawed from the start. It was rushed through Parliament just before recess without proper parliamentary scrutiny.
"The government must now bring forward changes to the Investigatory Powers Act to ensure that hundreds of thousands of people, many of whom are innocent victims or witnesses to crime, are protected by a system of independent approval for access to communications data. I'm proud to have played my part in safeguarding citizen's fundamental rights."
Liberty, seperately, is challenging the so-called Snoopers' Charter in a case that will go to the High Court later this year. µ
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