Legal challenge against UK’s sweeping surveillance laws quickly crowdfunded


Human rights campaign Liberty is launching a legal challenge against the UK’s recently passed surveillance legislation, and have reached an initial crowdfunding goal to pay for the fight this morning. The group raised £10,000 ($12,200) overnight, and will use it to seek a High Court judicial review of the new laws.

The legislation in question, known as the Investigatory Powers Bill, became law last November. It includes measures such as recording the internet history of every UK citizen for up to a year (and making that information accessible not only to the police but also government bodies like the Food Standards Agency), and granting security services the right to perform “bulk equipment interference” — or hacking groups of individuals at a time.

The law was condemned by both privacy groups and tech companies, and described as “worse than scary” by the privacy chief of the United Nations. Last December, the European Union even ruled that the legislation is illegal and “not justified within a democratic society,” but the UK’s pending exit from the EU means such censure will likely have no effect. The UK’s intelligence agencies also have a history of ignoring such challenges.

Liberty’s new campaign was inspired by a petition signed by more than 200,000 UK citizens for the government to debate the legislation once more (the request was rejected under the grounds that this had already taken place).

In a press statement, Liberty director Martha Spurrier said: “Last year, this Government exploited fear and distraction to quietly create the most extreme surveillance regime of any democracy in history. We hope anybody with an interest in defending our democracy, privacy, press freedom, fair trials, protest rights, free speech and the safety and cybersecurity of everyone in the UK will support this crowdfunded challenge, and make 2017 the year we reclaim our rights.”

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