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UN Special Rapporteur criticises IP Bill

Posted by Sam Frances on Thursday, March 10th, 2016 at 12:41

The UN “Special Rapporteur on the Right to Privacy in the Digital Age" has criticised the Investigatory Powers Bill, calling on the UK government to “desist from setting a bad example to other states”.

In his first report to the Human Rights Council, Joseph Cannataci raised concerns about “disproportionate, privacy-intrusive measures such as bulk surveillance and bulk hacking”. Praising the work of the three Parliamentary committees that examined the draft Bill, he invited them to “continue, with renewed vigour and determination, to exert their influence” so that these measures could be “outlawed rather than legitimised”.

The Rapporteur argued that the UK’s adoption of bulk interception and equipment interference could have a disproportionate effect on surveillance laws elsewhere.

Bearing in mind the huge influence that UK legislation still has in over 25% of the UN’s members states that still form part of the Commonwealth, as well as its proud tradition as a democracy which was one of the founders of leading regional human rights bodies such as the Council of Europe, the SRP encourages the UK Government to take this golden opportunity to set a good example and step back from taking disproportionate measures which may have negative ramifications far beyond the shores of the United Kingdom.

The Investigatory Powers Bill may also fail to comply with recent court rulings in Europe, said Mr Cannataci.

At the time of writing, not only do some of the UK Government’s proposals appear to run counter to the logic and findings of UN Special Rapporteur on Counter-terrorism Ben Emmerson in his 2014 report dealing inter alia with mass surveillance, but they prima facie fail the benchmarks set by the ECJ in Schrems and the ECHR in Zakharov.

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