SCHEDULE 7 of the Terrorism Act belongs in a police state, not a democracy.

It lets police, immigration or customs officers stop people at ports or airports – you, me, anyone – with no suspicion of criminality. They can detain and question you for up to six hours. They can search you – even strip search you – and seize your belongings.

They can demand access to, and copy data from, your devices, including your phone. It doesn’t matter how private that information is, or if you’re an academic researching something sensitive, or a medical professional – and we don’t know where that data is held or who it’s sent to.

It’s an excessive and unnecessary power that has spread fear and discrimination and caused huge distress for many people. And, as today’s story shows, it is ripe for political abuse.

READ: How Police Scotland treated a political activist like a terrorist

How much could your phone reveal? Who you talk to. Where you go. What you search for. Who you’re dating. Your political views. Under Schedule 7 the state can mine all that – and you can’t refuse. If you don’t comply you’re committing an offence.

All this with no need to suspect you of any wrongdoing whatsoever – and no requirement for authorities to justify their actions.

Misuse is routine – and, for those caught up by this arbitrary power, the impact is lasting and distressing.

Liberty recently represented Faizah Shaheen, an NHS psychotherapist who grew up in Glasgow. Last summer Faizah was disembarking from a plane at Doncaster Airport on the way back from her honeymoon when she saw two police officers staring at her.

They told her they needed to take her for a “routine check” – then admitted she was being questioned because of a book she had been reading on the plane.

That book, Syria Speaks, is about Syrians’ cultural response to the war. It had been mistaken for a Syrian phrasebook.

She was taken to an interview room and questioned about her trip, what languages she spoke and what she had been reading.

This blatant racial profiling had a profound effect on her. It left her feeling marginalised and singled out. In her words, it “reminded me that I do not belong”.

Schedule 7’s potential for political abuse has chilling ramifications for protest rights, press freedom and free expression.

In 2013 David Miranda was detained for nine hours at Heathrow. He was helping his partner, journalist Glenn Greenwald, who had recently written high-profile stories about Edward Snowden’s surveillance revelations. His electronic equipment – including a hard drive of journalistic material – was confiscated.

Miranda challenged his detention and in 2016 the Appeal Court ruled Schedule 7 did not contain adequate safeguards to protect journalists.

Proportionate and effective powers to counter terror are important. But this is neither. Instead of helping fight terror it undermines our community cohesion and freedom – the very things terrorists want to destroy.

Alternative, less arbitrary powers available to police, mean they could carry out equally effective operations without it and avoid the counterproductive alienation it causes.

Schedule 7 has been a blot on our law books for too long – it needs to go.

Corey Stoughton is the Advocacy Director for Liberty, an organisation that campaigns for civil liberties