The new powers require internet service providers (ISPs) to keep records of every website their customers visit for a year, and allows 48 state agencies unwarranted access. They also force companies to help intercept personal electronic devices, but increased safeguards are designed to protect sensitive professions such as journalists, lawyers and doctors.
But Liberty wants to challenge the lawfulness of these powers and is asking the public to fund a judicial review.
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.
“Hundreds of thousands of people have since called for this act’s repeal because they see it for what it is – an unprecedented, unjustified assault on our freedom.”
“Last year, this government exploited fear and distraction to quietly create the most extreme surveillance regime of any democracy in history.”
David Anderson, the independent terrorism legislation reviewer, wrote on his website ‘the jury’s out’, and praised its transparency in relation to equipment interference, “a widespread practice which few countries even acknowledge in their law”. He was not impressed however with the duel-lock system for authorising warrants, labelling it “unnecessarily cumbersome”.
Speaking in March 2015 about the Draft Communications Data Bill, Sir David Omand, a former-director of GCHQ, said that what was needed was ‘legislation not to give greater powers and not to take away powers, but instead to bring all the current legislation together to make it much easier for the public to understand.’
In response to the new law, he said: “The only new power is to allow the extension of the communications data retention obligation on internet service providers to internet communication records, to cover Skype and other internet calls.
“It’s a logical extension, with additional safeguards, but only experience of running the system in practice will show if it is really practicable and affordable.”
The Investigatory Powers Act 2016, as it is officially titled, became law in November when it received its Royal Assent. It replaces the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act 2014, which expired at the end of 2016, after the High Court found it unlawful only a year after it became law.