UK Supreme Court waves through indiscriminate police surveillance 6


Gareth Corfield reports on the Register website that a Supreme court ruling has effectively given carte blanche to police forces to retain personal data they have collected for virtually any purpose and hold it as long as they like – even when the people targeted are not violent and have committed no crime.

The case involved John Catt from Brighton who had lodged a legal claim against the police for keeping records about his attendance at various political protests going back a decade.  In 2013 the Court of Appeal ruled that it was illegal for the Police to retain such records; however, the police appealed to the Supreme court.

A particular concern highlighted in the article with the judgment, is the argument put forward by the court that the retention of data for “police purposes” is inherently lawful, albeit with the proviso that it is “regularly reviewed” for deletion (although with no actual requirement to delete it, or establish criteria for deletion).  This sets a dangerous precedence as it establishes a legal basis for indiscriminate mass surveillance by the police.


6 thoughts on “UK Supreme Court waves through indiscriminate police surveillance

  • cloudstarer

    So, were the police force to build a massive database with systems that pulled in financial transactions, travel card/ticket purchases, monitored CCTV facial recognition and so on, something a lot like the ID card database only moreso, this would be ‘inherently lawful’ because it’s the Police doing it ?

  • cloudstarer

    So, were the police force to build a massive database with systems that pulled in financial transactions, travel card/ticket purchases, monitored CCTV facial recognition and so on, something a lot like the ID card database only moreso, this would be ‘inherently lawful’ because it’s the Police doing it ?

  • Tom Welsh

    The UK is rapidly returning to the age of the Stuarts in terms of human rights, and at this rate will soon be into the Tudors or even the Plantagenets. Essentially this judgment is what one might expect from Thomas Hobbes, who maintained in “Leviathan” that the subject gave up ALL his rights – including the right to life – to the state in return for the promise of protection. But that protection was what the state judged right!

  • Tom Welsh

    The UK is rapidly returning to the age of the Stuarts in terms of human rights, and at this rate will soon be into the Tudors or even the Plantagenets. Essentially this judgment is what one might expect from Thomas Hobbes, who maintained in “Leviathan” that the subject gave up ALL his rights – including the right to life – to the state in return for the promise of protection. But that protection was what the state judged right!

  • An Interested Party

    Tom, I think you make a good point about the law going backwards. We are moving back towards what can be described as a clan based type of law, where the law is increasingly defined by a particular group for their own advantage; whether that be political, or as I think in this case ideological.

    Cloudstarer points out how ludicrous the idea of having no limits on the powers of the state is, as without limits anything becomes legal, not matter how extreme. Putting limits on the state was of course what the Magna Carta was all about. Although I doubt that Lord Sumption, the lead judge in the case considers the Magna Carta of any significance, based on the speech he gave to the Friends of the British library about the document: https://www.supremecourt.uk/docs/speech-150309.pdf

  • An Interested Party

    Tom, I think you make a good point about the law going backwards. We are moving back towards what can be described as a clan based type of law, where the law is increasingly defined by a particular group for their own advantage; whether that be political, or as I think in this case ideological.

    Cloudstarer points out how ludicrous the idea of having no limits on the powers of the state is, as without limits anything becomes legal, not matter how extreme. Putting limits on the state was of course what the Magna Carta was all about. Although I doubt that Lord Sumption, the lead judge in the case considers the Magna Carta of any significance, based on the speech he gave to the Friends of the British library about the document: https://www.supremecourt.uk/docs/speech-150309.pdf

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