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The Supreme Court has held that the Home Secretary acted lawfully by directing Ofcom, on national security grounds, not to exempt “GSM Gateways” from individual licensing requirements.

On 6 July 2017, Ofcom published a notice of its intention to liberalise the use of “multi-user” GSM Gateways, known as “COMUGs”. Ofcom was under a statutory duty to do so by reason of s.8(4) of the Wireless Telegraphy Act 2006, as a result of conclusions it had reached after a detailed review. On 25 September 2017, however, the Minister of State for Security made a direction on behalf of the then Home Secretary, Amber Rudd MP, instructing Ofcom not to exempt, because of concerns about the national security implications of COMUGs.

Overturning the Court of Appeal and High Court, the Supreme Court held that the power under which the Minister of State for Security issued the direction, in s.5(2) of the Communications Act 2003, permitted the Minister to override the duty imposed on Ofcom by s.8(4) of the WTA 2006.

James Segan KC acted as sole counsel for the Respondent.

The full judgment can be found here.

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