A legal challenge against the Snooper's Charter is being crowdfunded

 
Lynsey Barber
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The government's surveillance powers could face another legal battle (Source: Getty)

A privacy group is seeking to challenge the government's so-called Snooper's Charter that allows it to collect wide-ranging email and internet history data from citizens.

Liberty is launching a crowdfunding campaign to raise funds for a legal challenge against the law's powers which it called "an unprecedented, unjustified assault on our freedom" in the High Court.

The group, along with Labour deputy leader Tom Watson, won a legal battle in Europe against a previous similar law that has now been superceded by the Investigatory Powers Act.

Read more: Bulk online data collection ruled illegal by EU court

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) late last year ruled bulk collection under the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act (Dripa) was illegal following a similar ruling in the UK.

With the Investigatory Powers Act coming into law from the start of the year, the campaigners are seeking a fresh challenge buoyed by the EU's verdict.

It will challenge several areas of the law which forces internet service providers (ISPs) to hold the web history data on all users for 12 months, claiming it breaches the public's rights.

That includes that authorities can be given access to communications such as emails and text messages without suspicion of criminal activity; that this leaves people vulnerable to hacking; that the mass trove of public and private data will be "ripe for abuse and discrimination".

Read more: Snooper's Charter puts UK tech sector in jeopardy, MPs warn

A petition calling on the government to repeal the law surpassed 100,000 signatures last year forcing a fresh parliamentary debate on the matter to be considered.

"We hope anybody with an interest in defending our democracy, privacy, press freedom, fair trials, protest rights, free speech and the safety and cybersecurity of everyone in the UK will support this crowdfunded challenge, and make 2017 the year we reclaim our rights," said director of Liberty Martha Spurrier.

The potential challenge is raising money on Crowdjustice.

The law was pushed through by then-home secretary Theresa May but has faced fierce criticism from privacy experts, rival political parties and tech companies. Supporters believe the law gives authorities greater powers to tackle crime.

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