Investigatory Powers Act 2016 struck down
2016 saw the UK Government pass the Investigatory Powers Act in an attempt to improve the national security network by massively increasing surveillance.
The original bill came under a heavy amount of scrutiny with critics wondering why national security required that 48 different organisations needed to be able to indiscriminately store the communications history of all British citizens for 12 months – including all phone communication, social media interactions, internet gaming history, internet search history, and much more.
In addition, it gives UK security services the right to hack into any computer, mobile device, network or server they want to.
It is, by any measure, one of the harshest and most wide reaching surveillance laws ever passed in a functioning democracy and it is not hard to see why many were dismayed by its passing. The spirit of the law works on a presumption of guilt, thereby undermining the foundations of the UK legal system and the principles of Western democracy.
And, it turns out, the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg agrees. The EU’s highest ruling body has declared that the “general and indiscriminate retention” of emails and electronic communications by governments is illegal, opening the door for a possibly fatal legal challenge to the Investigatory Powers Act.
The idea that governments shouldn’t closely monitor everything said by all its citizens on the off chance that a crime might be committed seems obvious to most. This includes the UK Secretary for Exiting The European Union, David Davis, who argued that the Act is tantamount to “treating the entire nation as suspects”.
Can you have a free society without privacy? Probably not, but that is unlikely to stop measures like this being proposed again and again, and that is without taking into account the Prime Minister. Theresa May is famously litigious when one of her projects gets shut down by the courts and has a history of challenging judgements even when she is clearly in the wrong and has little chance of winning – this trait was most recently demonstrated by the Brexit high court challenge.
The Investigatory Powers Act 2016: gone, but unlikely to be forgotten by the powers that be.