More than half a million people have been stopped and profiled at UK borders. Schedule 7 is the mass surveillance power that you don’t know about…
No right to silence
Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000 is a breathtakingly broad and intrusive power to stop, search and hold individuals at ports, airports and international rail stations. It can be exercised without the need for any grounds of suspecting the person’s involvement in terrorism or any other criminal activity.
Schedule 7 could be the most draconian and invasive profiling tool found anywhere in the West
Since 2000, more than half a million people have been stopped and questioned under these powers. At its peak, over 80,000 people were stopped in a single year.
When stopped entering or exiting the UK, you:
- Do not have the right to remain silent
- Are obliged to answer all questions, even the most intimate
- May be required to hand over DNA, fingerprints and photos
- Do not have the right to data privacy. All electronic material can be seized, copied and analysed without a warrant
- May be forced to hand over all passwords and encryption keys
- Can be questioned for upto 6 hours
- Refusing any of the above leaves you potentially facing prison time. And remember: you do not have to be suspected of being involved in any crime!
Regardless of the outcome, ALL DNA and fingerprints taken are placed on the UK National DNA database as well as the same database of convicted terrorists.
While preventing terrorists from entering the UK is cited as the justification for this power, last year, only 0.2% of those stopped were arrested, not necessarily charged, let alone convicted, while nearly 80% of those stopped are from ethnic minorities.
Schedule 7 does not make us safer. It is a tool of mass profiling and bulk data collection and it alienates law abiding citizens that are not even suspected of criminal activity.
Activists, Journalists, Lawyers Targeted too
While Schedule 7 powers have been used against ethnic and religious minorities, it has also been (mis)used specifically to interrogate and gather information on activists, journalists, lawyers and academics while they are left with no protection.
Below are a few of the most well known examples:
- David Miranda, working with Glenn Greenwald on the NSA revelations, was notoriously stopped under Schedule 7 for 9 hours, questioned about his work and saw all his electronics (admitted to be journalistic material) seized
- Multi Award-winning Channel 4 journalist Jamal Osman detailed his experience: “I joined Channel 4 News as a reporter, largely covering Africa a role that required frequent travelling. And that is when my nightmare at the hands of Britain’s security services began. I have been detained, questioned and harassed almost every time I have passed through Heathrow airport.”
- Baraa Shiban, a Yemeni human rights activist who works for the legal charity Reprieve, was stopped under Schedule 7 whilst he was traveling to London to speak at an event. His lawyers said he had been detained “to intimidate and interrogate him because of his human rights work”.
CAGE staff have themselves been subjected to repeated stops at borders
Like All Mass Surveillance Powers, Schedule 7 Must Be Opposed
The UK government is growing its arsenal of mass surveillance tools. Schedule 7 continues to affect thousands each year. Join the campaign to stop the growth of the surveillance state. Know your rights if ever stopped under Schedule 7 powers.