On 10-12 May 2023, the Court of Appeal will hear how bulk powers under the Investigatory Powers Act, also known as the ‘Snoopers’ Charter’, violate the rights to privacy and freedom of expression.
Human rights organisation Liberty is in court this week to challenge mass surveillance powers used by the UK state.
Wide-ranging surveillance powers in the Act mean that journalists, lawyers and the general public are at risk of having their calls, text messages, internet history and other data collected and stored by the police and security services, regardless of whether they are alleged to have done anything wrong.
Liberty will argue that there are insufficient safeguards in place to limit the use of these powers, which is particularly concerning in relation to the confidential work and communications of journalists and lawyers. Ahead of the Court of Appeal hearing, the government has already conceded that the Act is unlawful and needs to be amended to tighten protections for journalists.
The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) is intervening in the case and will argue that the Act threatens journalistic communications and the right of journalists to protect sources – putting at risk the ability of journalists to report public interest stories.
Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ General Secretary, said:
The NUJ’s intervention in this appeal is to ensure that every effort is made to challenge the harmful consequences of the Investigatory Powers Act for journalistic communications and the right of journalists to protect sources.
Without sufficient protections, blanket powers can be used by the government to undermine democracy and the public’s access to stories in the public interest. The government must act now to safeguard journalism.
The NUJ is represented in the appeal by Grace Benton and Caroline Robinson of Bindmans LLP assisted by Jenni Whitaker, and Jude Bunting KC of Doughty Street Chambers.