The Court of Appeal has ruled that hacking into saved voicemail messages after the receipt has already heard them is still an interception of a communication "in the course of its transmission" for the purposes of the offence under section 1(1)(b) of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA). The defendants, all former editors or journalists at the News of the World, had argued that hacked messages were not intercepted "in the course of transmission" because the transmission was already complete, but the court held that voicemail transmission is a continuing state of affairs and is not limited to the first occasion when the intended recipient accesses the message. The technical analysis by the Court is, in our view, strained and will potentially raise questions for providers of services which interpose themselves at any stage in the communication channel.

The judgment can be found here.

Case reference:

R v Edmonson and others [2013] EWCA Crim 1026, 28 June 2013