The high court have been told that Mi5 have been wrongly holding people’s data through surveillance or hacking programmes. Withholding information like location data, messages and web browsing history without any appropriate protection. Senior judges have been misconstrued by the security agency by applying warrants on the basis that the data protection obligations were being met - when this was far from the truth. Having been aware of the numerous fines and breaches and still failing to take actions on their own management, is what makes this situation upsetting. Now having been exposed by Lord Justice Fulford and admitted by Sajid Javid the Home Secretary.
The ‘mass collection of data of innocent citizens’
Megan Goulding, a lawyer for the civil rights group, said: "Mi5 have been holding on to people's data - ordinary people's data, your data, my data - illegally for many years. "Not only that, they've been trying to keep their really serious errors secret - secret from the security services watchdog, who's supposed to know about them, secret from the Home Office, secret from the prime minister and secret from the public."
Mi5 under the Investigatory Power Act can collect individuals' location data, calls, messages and web browsing history. As well as bulk data collection, which can include a range of personal information, which Mi5 can use targeted interceptions of communication and computer hacking for investigations such as counter-terrorism. However, the Act has strict safeguardings so the agency requiring this information must ensure that it is stored and handled safely including its destruction when its no longer needed. With Mi5 ‘historical lack of compliance ‘says Lord Justice Fulford it’s not a surprise that this has occurred. With Lord Justice Fulford ruling, made public for the first time, the security service would be placed under greater security by judges when seeking warrants, which the commissioner compared to failing schools and being placed in ‘special measures’.
Documents presented in court showed that Mi5 were aware of their issues with the management of data. Having been criticised for not informing the commissioner of concerns earlier. With information people had discussed with lawyers being amongst the data they gathered without a lawful basis, the court heard. Liberty have said that material like this should be protected by legal privileges, but due to the system failing it was being viewed by the people at Mi5. Failing to explain the detail of the breaches because it was a serious national security concern. In a statement last month after he had been informed of the issues, Mr Javid said Mi5 had taken "immediate and substantial" steps to comply with the law. Julian Milford, representing Mr Javid and Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, acknowledged in court "the existence of serious compliance risks". But he said these specific issues were a "complete irrelevance" to Liberty's court case, which was challenging the legality of the whole system of information gathering created by the Investigatory Powers Act.