General Warrants should not be used

Source: Privacy International. 8th January 2021

Victory at the High Court against the government's use of 'general warrants'

In another victory for the rule of law, the UK High Court has held that the security and intelligence services cannot rely on non-specific warrants - otherwise known as general warrants - to authorise wide-ranging property interference and certain forms of computer hacking.


We won our judicial review challenge to a 2016 decision by the Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT). The UK High Court has held that the security and intelligence services can no longer rely on 'general warrants' to interfere with property, including computers.


  • A major High Court ruling today re-asserts 250-year-old aversion of the common law to the use of 'general warrants'.
  • The ruling means the intelligence agencies can no longer rely on 'general warrants' for certain forms of property interference, including hacking.
  • In the digital age, where a general warrant could easily enable spying on hundreds, thousands or even millions of people, this is a major victory.


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