Earlier this week, CAGE’s international director stood on trial, defending the right to protect the confidential data of a survivor of torture. The case highlighted the excessive nature of Schedule 7, which allows for the suspicionless stop and subsequent warrantless ‘digital strip search’ of innocent travellers.

In court, the police officers conceded that they stop individuals on a mere hunch. This coupled with their unfettered access to digital data has alarmed journalists and campaigners alike. This law poses a direct threat to any person passing through UK ports while carrying any confidential information.

These are some of the reactions from the world of campaigners and journalism:

Middle East Eye:

“…the key is Finding the appropriate balance and cases like Rabbani’s and Carpenter will undoubtedly continue to define those boundaries for the public and government alike.”

Open Rights Group:

“These powers are blanket and do not require suspicion. They have been employed against journalists and others to compel them to provide information.”

Index on Censorship:

The legislation threatens the work of reporters and of advocacy groups…

The Intercept:

The most senior officer acknowledged that Rabbani had not been randomly stopped and was instead deliberately targeted… never before had police seemed so determined to gain access to his electronic devices.


Senior district judge Emma Arbuthnot said she believed Rabbani was protecting sensitive information but [she] was bound by the law to find him guilty.

The Guardian:

The implication of the verdict was that at the point of entry to the UK, she said [Gareth Pierce], suspects faced a dilemma “like a gun being pointed to your head” by the police.


As he left court, the large number who had come out to support him cheered, clapped and handed him flowers and a box of chocolates. “If privacy and confidentiality are crimes, then the law stands condemned,” he told them.


That anti-terror laws are used to convict people with no conceivable connection to actual terrorism is partly to blame for the increasing cynicism with which they are seen in the UK.


Khan [Human Rights Lawyer] hit out at Rabbani’s conviction being portrayed as related to terrorism offences, when there is actually “no connection between what he did and any form of terrorism.Indeed he hasn’t even be suspected of terrorism,” Khan remarked.

Hi Tech Beacon:

In what has been described as another embarrassing indictment of United Kingdom terror legislation, Rabbani was charged under anti-terror laws for not giving passwords.

Naked Security:

Anyone going to or from the UK, USA and a growing list of other countries, can be asked for a device password, whether they are suspected of an offence or not.”

Socialist Worker:

“They give the police the power to snoop on anyone they deem suspicious. Some 99.98 percent of those stopped are never charged.”

New York Magazine:

The ruling sets a precedent that could have severe consequences for anyone handling sensitive information and travelling into the United Kingdom.

Muslim News:

“Under the law, any individual entering the U.K. can be detained and questioned and their DNA and fingerprints can be collected. Their passwords can be demanded to access personal devices by the security services without needing any suspicion regarding the individual.”

(NOTE: CAGE represents cases of individuals based on the remit of our work. Supporting a case does not mean we agree with the views or actions of the individual. Content published on CAGE may not reflect the official position of our organisation.)