MI5’s Unlawful Holding Of Personal Data Brought To Light

A watchdog has reported that MI5 have handled personal data unlawfully. The IP Commissioner stated that information collected due to warrants was stored without ample security for too long. Liberty stated that innocent citizens were being put on surveillance and their data collected in massive amounts.

MI5 knew these issues 3 years ago but chose to keep it a secret. Megan Goulding, Liberty’s lawyer, stated that MI5 has stored information about ordinary people illegally. Their grievous errors were also hidden from security watchdogs, Home Office, the PM, and the public. The HC heard the case as Liberty argued against the IP Act as per which, MI5 can request warrants to gain data about browsing history, messages, calls, location. Ordinary members can also be targeted in addition to data collection in bulk. Methods like computer hacking and targeted interceptions are usually used for counterterrorism measures.

However, the act does contain rules about storage and handling of information. Data is to be discarded when not needed or stored securely.MI5 has a tendency not to comply with this law, said Justice Fulford, who monitored MI5’s data usage as IP Commissioner. The case ruling revealed that MI5 would be under greater focus, the next time it requested warrants from judges. It was akin to placing a failed school under special measures for improvement.

Liberty stated that some warrants might not be lawful at all, as MI5 knew of its data handling failings but didn’t inform judges of this. Senior members knew of these failings around 3 years ago. Number 10 and Home Office were informed of the situation in April. The Commissioner stated that it should’ve been done before. Client-lawyer discussions were also wrongly monitored by MI5.

Although such material had to be secured by privilege, MI5 officers had seen it. MI5 lawyers stated that they couldn’t discuss breaches in court due to security concerns. MI5 has taken substantial steps for compliance, said the Home Secretary. Julian Milford who appeared for Jeremy Hunt and Mr. Javid stated that compliance risks did exist. However, they were irrelevant to this case as Liberty was arguing against the entire IP Act-based monitoring systems in place.

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