Watchdog says “intolerable” terror laws must be scrapped

Adds that stronger reasons required to introduce Snoopers' Charter


The UK must redraft its "intolerable" terror laws from scratch, a watchdog recommended today.

Parts of RIPA, and DRIPA 2014, must be scrapped by the government as it returns to the drawing board, said David Anderson, Britain's independent reviewer of anti-terrorism laws, in his report published today.

The report 'A Question of Trust' also said the government must outline the need for new surveillance powers such as the Snooper's Charter.

Advertisement - Article continues below

Writing in his report, Anderson said: "RIPA, obscure since its inception, has been patched up so many times as to make it incomprehensible to all but a tiny band of initiates. This state of affairs is undemocratic, unnecessary and in the long run intolerable.

"But trust requires verification. Each intrusive power must be shown to be necessary, clearly spelled out in law, limited in accordance with international human rights standards and subject to demanding and visible safeguards."

RIPA, which allows police and spies to intercept emails, phone calls and snoop on people's online movements, should be overseen by a law that bolsters safeguards to prevent abuses of power.

One measure the report recommended was to strip ministers' powers to approve surveillance warrants, giving these responsibilities to judges, instead.

A new law should be easy to understand, too, while any extra surveillance powers must be justified by strong cases for their introduction, Anderson added.

Advertisement - Article continues below
Advertisement - Article continues below

He called for a new easily understood, comprehensive law with improved safeguards, and judges, not ministers, approving warrants to allow access to the content of emails, phone calls and other communications.

It should also comply with human rights standards, despite the Conservatives' proposal to ditch the Human Rights Act

Any further powers, such as forcing service providers to keep details of all individuals' internet use, should only be allowed after a compelling case was made, he added.

Shami Chakrabarti, director of human rights organisation Liberty, said: "This thoughtful report is in sharp contrast with the defensive whitewash from the discredited Intelligence and Security Committee of the last Parliament. 

"Whilst we don't agree with all his conclusions, Mr Anderson's intervention could be the beginning of re-building public trust in surveillance conducted with respect for privacy, democracy and the law. It is further vindication of Edward Snowden's courage."

The part Chakrabarti does not agree with is Anderson's support that mass surveillance should continue, if the right safeguards can be introduced.

Advertisement - Article continues below

He wrote: "The capability of the security and intelligence agencies to practise bulk collection of intercepted material and associated data should be retained ... but used only subject to strict additional safeguards."

These cover judicial authorisation and a tighter definition of the reasons it is required.

Reacting to the report, Home Secretary Theresa May suggested she would push the Snoopers' Charter through Parliament regardless of the report's advice.

Featured Resources

The case for a marketing content hub

Transform your digital marketing to deliver customer expectations

Download now

Fast, flexible and compliant e-signatures for global businesses

Be at the forefront of digital transformation with electronic signatures

Download now

Why CEOS should care about the move to SAP S/4HANA

And how they can accelerate business value

Download now

IT faces new security challenges in the wake of COVID-19

Beat the crisis by learning how to secure your network

Download now


video conferencing

Taiwan becomes first country to ban Zoom amid security concerns

8 Apr 2020

How to build a Raspberry Pi security camera

14 Feb 2020
Policy & legislation

Ofcom handed remit to police Silicon Valley giants

12 Feb 2020

Amazon will pass on 2% digital tax to sellers

16 Jan 2020

Most Popular


Apple confirms serious bugs in iOS 13.5

4 Jun 2020

The UK looks to Japan and South Korea for 5G equipment

4 Jun 2020

Tycoon ransomware discovered using Java image files to target software firms

5 Jun 2020