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Civil liberties groups take British spy agencies to court over online snooping

Civil liberties groups are taking Britain's spy agencies to court in a bid to limit electronic surveillance, as the government tries to pass legislation to extend snooping powers.

On Monday a special court, the Investigatory Powers Tribunal, is hearing a challenge to mass online snooping from groups including Amnesty International, Liberty and the American Civil Liberties Union.

They claim the spies' collection of communications data breaches the rights to private life and freedom of expression.

Meanwhile, Parliament will debate a bill that would force phone and Internet companies to store call and search records for a year.

The government introduced the legislation in response to a European Court of Justice ruling that a European Union directive requiring companies to store communications data was too broad and a threat to privacy.