The civil and digital rights group Liberty has lost its legal challenge against the Investigatory Powers Act (IPA) 2016, in a blow to consumers’ privacy online.

Liberty had argued that parts of the IPA were incompatible with human rights laws, especially the allowance for the government to interfere with computers, phones and other devices. 

Liberty’s argument hinged on the argument that there were not “sufficient safeguards against the risk of abuse of power”. However, Lord Justice Singh and Mr Justice Holgate rejected this claim on the grounds that the IPA included enough “safeguards against the possible abuse of power.”

This comes after the discovery that MI5 had been operating on warrants that the intelligence agency knew to be incorrect, and that they had been storing personal data illegally for extended periods of time.

At the time, Liberty accused the agency of “extraordinary and persistent illegality”.

Simon Migliano, Head of Research at Top10VPN.com, said in reaction to today’s ruling: “It’s incredibly disappointing that the high court has ignored evidence that MI5 failed to adequately safeguard bulk surveillance data in its ruling to dismiss Liberty’s legal challenge.

“Only by preventing the government from collecting our data in the first place can we be sure that our internet browsing data will not fall into the wrong hands or be used against us in some way.

“Anyone who cares about privacy must therefore take matters into their own hands and use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) at all times online. 

“A VPN prevents ISPs from logging your internet activity by encrypting traffic and routing it via a remote server. While ISPs are able to record your use of a VPN, they are unable to see the final destination, ie the websites you visit.”