Almost three million "snooping" operations have been carried out under laws originally intended to help crack down on terrorism.
Requests for information or surveillance range from bugging telephone calls and spying on people in their homes to asking for information on such as phone bills.
In a report on the use of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (Ripa), since it came into force in 2000, the human rights group Justice demanded that the UK's surveillance laws be overhauled to stop "unnecessary, unwarranted and unchecked state intrusion".
More than 20,000 warrants for the interception of phone calls, emails, and internet use have been issued under Ripa. The rights group said "directed surveillance", where someone can be followed or have their house watched, had been authorised on at least 30,000 occasions in the past decade. Eric Metcalfe, of Justice, said: "Ripa has not only failed to prevent unnecessary surveillance but also encouraged it."
A further 2.7 million requests have been made for information such as phone bills, along with more than 4,000 authorisations for intrusive surveillance, Justice said.Reuse content