Campaign group Liberty won a legal challenge to the UK Government today with a ruling by the High Court in London that part of the Investigatory Powers Act 2016, is unlawful.

Giving their ruling on the first stage of a wideranging challenge to the Act by Liberty, Lord Justice Singh and Mr Justice Holgate held that provisions conferring power on the Government to order private companies to store everybody’s communications data, including internet history, so that state agencies could access the data, violated the UK public’s right to privacy. Liberty had argued that the absence of limits and safeguards in the Act made it too intrusive.

The court ruled these provisions, in part 4 of the Act, incompatible with fundamental rights because ministers were able to issue data retention orders without independent review and authorisation, and for reasons which had nothing to do with investigating serious crime.

It gave ministers until Thursday 1 November 2018 to make the necessary amendments to the Act.

Martha Spurrier, director of Liberty, commented: "Police and security agencies need tools to tackle serious crime in the digital age – but creating the most intrusive surveillance regime of any democracy in the world is unlawful, unnecessary and ineffective.

"Spying on everyone’s internet histories and email, text and phone records with no suspicion of serious criminal activity and no basic protections for our rights undermines everything that’s central to our democracy and freedom – our privacy, free press, free speech, protest rights, protections for journalists’ sources and whistleblowers, and legal and patient confidentiality. It also puts our most sensitive personal information at huge risk from criminal hackers and foreign spies."

She aded that further challenges would be argued over parts of the Act that "let the state hack our computers, tablets and phones, hoover up information about who we speak to, where we go, and what we look at online, and collect profiles of individual people even without any suspicion of criminality". 

The case was funded by donations from members of the public. Liberty has launched a second phase of crowdfunding to ensure it can continue with the next stage of the challenge.

Click here to view the judgment.