The Law Society and Bar Council have joined hands with organisations representing social workers and journalists to call for new legal protections against state surveillance.
In a statement published today, the Professionals for Information Privacy coalition calls for tougher controls on state monitoring of communications between professionals and their clients. The coalition comprises the Law Society, Bar Council, The British Association of Social Workers and National Union of Journalists.
Today is the deadline for responses to the government's consultation on proposed codes of practice under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA).
The coalition's statement says that existing data and surveillance rules are 'complex and confusing and have been laid down in numerous, badly drafted pieces of legislation, codes and guidance'.
Too many measures have been rushed through parliament as emergency legislation – most recently the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act 2014, the statement says.
'This has undermined parliamentary scrutiny and democratic debate. So we have come together to call for the existing problems to be addressed in the various reviews still underway.'
It says that access to professional data should be protected in law and should be subject to independent, judicial oversight. 'Using codes of practice - such as the draft code under RIPA - undermines the rule of law.'
Andrew Caplen, Law Society president, said: 'Legal advice oils the wheels of commerce and helps to protect the innocent in complex rule-based societies. The rule of law and the administration of justice are undermined if individuals cannot place absolute trust in their legal advisers.'