Liberty/Privacy No 1

IPT/13/77/H IPT13/92/CH IPT/13/168-173/H IPT/13/194/CH IPT/13/204/CH: Reported in [2015] 3 AER 142

On the basis of assumed facts, the Tribunal considered the lawfulness of the alleged receipt by the Security Services of intercept from two interception programmes operated by the Security Services of the United States, Prism and Upstream, and of the regime of interception by the UK Security Services pursuant to warrants issued under Section 8 (4) of RIPA. The Tribunal concluded that the Section 8 (4) regime was lawful and Human Rights compliant. As for Prism and Upstream, the Tribunal concluded that prior to the proceedings and the judgment of the Tribunal there had been inadequate disclosure of the regime to be compliant with Article 8, but that since the disclosures recorded in the Tribunal’s judgment of 5/12/2014 it had been compliant, with one possible exception (which was reserved for further argument: see 5.8 below).

The following Paragraphs of the Tribunal’s judgment represent a summary of its main findings:

    “157. The legislation in force and the safeguards to which we have referred are intended to recognise the importance of, and the need to maintain, an acceptable balance between (a) the interests of the State to acquire information for the vital purposes of national security and the protection of its citizens from terrorism and other serious crime, and (b) the vital interests of all citizens to know that the law makes effective provision to safeguard their rights to privacy and freedom of expression, together with appropriate and effective limits upon what the State does with that information.

    “158. Technology in the surveillance field appears to be advancing at break-neck speed. This has given rise to submissions that the UK legislation has failed to keep abreast of the consequences of these advances, and is ill fitted to do so; and that in any event Parliament has failed to provide safeguards adequate to meet these developments. All this inevitably creates considerable tension between the competing interests, and the ‘Snowden revelations’ in particular have led to the impression voiced in some quarters that the law in some way permits the Intelligence Services carte blanche to do what they will. We are satisfied that this is not the case.

    “159. We can be satisfied that, as addressed and disclosed in this judgment, in this sensitive field of national security, in relation to the areas addressed in this case, the law gives individuals an adequate indication as to the circumstances in which and the conditions upon which the Intelligence Services are entitled to resort to interception, or to make use of intercept.”

Judgment dated : 5 Dec 14

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