…no one can arrest or detain you arbitrarily

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Trials should be public and tried in a fair manner by an impartial and independent tribunal.

Anyone who is arrested should be informed of the reasons for their arrest and any charges against them. Anyone who is detained is also entitled to a trial within a reasonable time, or to be released if no charges are held against them.

Privacy enhances these protections. It provides limitations on the manner in which information can be obtained about you, and the kind of information that can be accessed about you by law enforcement, who can access that information and how they can use it. Appropriate safeguards and procedures must be in place to ensure that we are not arbitrarily arrested or detained.

Increasingly police forces are acquiring new and ever more intrusive tools to facilitate their investigations. However, these are often not accompanied by the appropriate rules and procedures.

The use of mobile phone extraction capabilities during stop and search investigations by British police forces exemplifies the problem with police forces’ overreach. In January 2017, The Bristol Cable revealed that at least 28 UK frontline Police forces had been using mobile phone extraction tools to obtain the personal data of victims, witnesses and suspects, for any crime, irrespective of whether it is serious or not, since at least 2012.

David Lammy, member of the UK parliament, highlighted the fact that there are “no records, no statistics, no safeguards and no clear statement of the rights of citizens if their mobile phone is confiscated and searched by the police.”

Our 2018 follow-up report, ‘Digital Stop and Search’, revealed that the police regularly extract data from your phone without a clear legal basis, without your consent or knowledge, and without a warrant. The report complimented the Bristol Cable report though information obtained by 47 police stations. For instance, in North Yorkshire Police, the audit report examined by The Bristol Cable, showed that 50% of a sample of mobile phones searched lacked an authorisation warrant.

The lack of sufficient legal basis and independent oversight creates the significant risk that extraction technologies will be used in unfair and discriminatory ways. Law enforcement and intelligence agencies should not be allowed to search a person’s house without a warrant and a phone contains vastly more information about a person, their friends and family. So how can they get away with searching someone’s phone without judicial authorisation?

In order for people to be protected from arbitrary arrest and detention, they must first have strong privacy protections over the content of their personal electronic devices.

No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile. Article 9, Freedom from arbitrary detention

* Photo by niu niu on Unsplash