Privacy International takes government to court over hacking


Privacy International is headed to the UK Court of Appeal to appeal against the UK government's snooping powers this week.

The case dates all the way back to 2014, when the organisation challenged government spy agency GCHQ's "large scale" use of hacking at the Investigatory Powers Tribunal.

The tribunal rejected Privacy International's argument, leading the organisation to appeal against the decision at the High Court of England and Wales in 2016. It claimed it's against human rights for the public sector to hack into people and their property using general warrants, which are very broad in scope. It also argued that if the government can hack into devices, so can malicious actors, putting everyone's data at risk. However, the government objected to the appeal, saying the courts shouldn't be able to review tribunal decisions

The High Court agreed with the UK government, which has led Privacy International to take the High Court's decision at the Court of Appeal.

"The Tribunal unlawfully sanctioned the UK government's use of sweeping powers to hack hundreds or thousands of people's computers and phones with a single warrant," Scarlet Kim, legal officer at Privacy International said.

"Rather than debate the necessity and proportionality of their expansive hacking powers, the government is instead arguing that the UK courts should have no jurisdiction to review the legality of the Tribunal's decisions.

"Too often, the government justifies intrusive surveillance powers by telling the public that 'if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear'. We throw that mantra back to the government - 'if you have nothing to hide about your hacking, you have nothing to hide from our courts'."

Clare Hopping
Freelance writer

Clare is the founder of Blue Cactus Digital, a digital marketing company that helps ethical and sustainability-focused businesses grow their customer base.

Prior to becoming a marketer, Clare was a journalist, working at a range of mobile device-focused outlets including Know Your Mobile before moving into freelance life.

As a freelance writer, she drew on her expertise in mobility to write features and guides for ITPro, as well as regularly writing news stories on a wide range of topics.