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MI5 intentionally broke surveillance laws for years, tribute told

Written by Thu 28 Jul 2022

Investigatory Powers Tribunal

In a milestone case being heard by the Investigatory Powers Tribunal, human rights advocacy groups Liberty and Privacy International alleged that MI5 knowingly broke the law in order to collect massive amounts of data about UK citizens.

According to these groups, this law breaking took place over a ten-year period and related to unlawfully holding and using individuals data, as well as how MI5 protected privileged communications between lawyers and clients.

According to Liberty, a number of these details were disclosed in 2019 after a different legal challenge around the Investigatory Powers Act 2016 (IPA), also known as the Snoopers’ Charter, uncovered that MI5 had been unlawfully retaining and mishandling the public’s data.

The lawyer representing Liberty described these allegations as another example of how both the Government and security services are violating essential rights to privacy and free expression.

“We all want to have control over our personal information and data. But MI5’s law-breaking is yet another example of how the dangerous powers granted under the Snoopers’ Charter do not work for the public, and how the Government and security services continually violate our basic rights to privacy and free expression when they spy on us,” explains Liberty lawyer, Megan Goulding.

The Tribunal also heard that the Home Office and numerous Home Secretaries had failed to properly investigate these MI5 breaches, even though there was information that showed it was likely that the security services had acted outside of the law.

In addition, the MI5 surveillance warrants must be approved by the Home Secretary, who can only do so if they believe legal safeguards around data handling are satisfied. Both Liberty and Privacy International argue that several Home Secretaries willfully ignored warning signs that MI5 was mishandling data.

Written by Thu 28 Jul 2022


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