Cases include a family who were spied on to check they were not cheating on school catchment area rules and so-called ‘bin criminals’.
The group’s report, titled Freedom from Suspicion, says: ‘The UK has, in the space of 40 years, gone from a society in which mass surveillance was largely a theoretical possibility to one in which it has become not only ubiquitous but routine.’
Half of Facebook users 'can't keep up' with site's snooping policies as privacy rules change EIGHT times in two years
RIPA, billed as ‘anti-terror legislation’, was passed by Labour in 2000 supposedly to regulate snooping by public bodies. But Justice, which has campaigned on privacy matters for decades, says the result has been a huge increase in intrusive surveillance. Since the Act was passed, there have been:
More than 20,000 warrants for the interception of phone calls, emails and internet use;
At least 2.7million requests for communication data, including phone bills and location information;
More than 4,000 authorisations for intrusive surveillance, such as planting a bug in a person’s house; At least 186,133 authorisations for directed (covert) surveillance by law enforcement agencies;
61,317 directed surveillance operations by other public bodies, including councils;
43,391 authorisations for ‘covert human intelligence sources’.
In total, the report says there have been around three million decisions taken by state bodies under RIPA, not including authorisations given to the security and intelligence services.
Yet fewer than 5,000 of these – just 0.16 per cent – were approved by judges.
The report also warns that Britain has the largest DNA database in the world and the largest number of CCTV cameras. It highlights how the public readily hands over information, via supermarket loyalty cards and Oyster London Underground travel passes, which can be used to track a person’s movements.