The Secretary of State has been granted permission to appeal in R (VIP Communications Ltd) v Secretary of State for the Home Department.
This is a national-security-related judicial review in the telecommunications sphere. In 2020, the Court of Appeal agreed with the High Court that the Secretary of State lacked the power to give a direction to Ofcom not to exempt ‘GSM Gateways’ from individual licensing requirements on national security grounds. GSM Gateways, and specifically Commercial Multi-User Gateways (or ‘COMUGS’), pose national security risks because when a call is made from a landline or mobile phone and routed through a “GSM gateway” the information identifying the calling party is replaced, making it very difficult for communications data about the call or the caller to be ascertained.
The appeal raises the narrow but important question of the proper construction of s.5(3) of the Communications Act 2003, and what powers it confers on the Secretary of State to give directions to Ofcom.