Liberty mocks UK Snoopers’ Charter in candid camera campaign film

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By Thomas Connelly on

Human rights charity documents people’s reactions to comedian demanding to look through their mobile phones


A leading human rights charity has produced a candid camera-inspired film highlighting what it believes would be the intrusive effects of the UK government’s new snoopers’ charter.

Liberty — also known as the National Council for Civil Liberties — has produced a short video with the help of comedian Olivia Lee. Lee, who has appeared on hidden camera shows such as Channel 4’s Balls of Steel, can be seen approaching unsuspecting members of the public asking to look through their mobile phones.

The footage (embedded below) — which ironically has been filmed in secret to gain genuine reactions from the public — has already received over 85,500 views in just two days. People’s reactions to Lee’s antics are mixed to say the least. While one shopper tells the comedian she is being really “weird”, another — in true Londoner style — tells her to “go f*ck yourself!.”

At one point the daring comedian even tries to enter Home Office HQ holding what appears to be a rather crudely made ‘listening device’. With security staff — and even at one point a police officer — asking her switch off the device, she is quickly escorted out of the building.


But there is a serious point to all this tomfoolery. The proposed law — dubbed the “Snooper’s Charter” — is a contentious anti-terrorism measure that will give a broad range of public bodies unfettered access to information such as phone records and internet browsing history.

Earlier this year members of the bar came out swinging over the suggestion that the Snooper’s Charter — or Investigatory Powers Bill to give it its official title — could affect privileged communications between lawyer and client. Despite Home Secretary Theresa May’s repeated attempts to reassure lawyers across the UK that it would not, Doughty Street’s Peter Carter QC remained unconvinced. Speaking back in March, he said:

Disappointingly the Bill… creates a legislative framework that places surveillance of legally privileged communications entirely within the law which undermines the fundamental constitutional rights of the client.

The film has been launched in conjunction with its “No Snoopers’ Charter” campaign. The human rights organisation believes that the new powers will be “ineffective” in reducing serious crime and that more “targeted”, as opposed to “mass” surveillance, is the way forward.

Bella Sankey, policy director for Liberty said:

As this film shows, people in Britain value their personal privacy –- even Home Office staff are unwilling to reveal their phone records for no good reason. But the Government’s latest Snoopers’ Charter would make everyone’s online activity available to the authorities to speculatively trawl through without good reason and without us ever being told.

The video comes just weeks after former Liberty director Shami Chakrabarti revealed she was returning to the bar. Having quit her role at the human rights charity earlier this year, Chakrabarti unveiled a big money move to commercial chambers 39 Essex Chambers, but only as a door tenant.