Privacy rights group Privacy International says it has obtained evidence for the first time that UK spy agencies are collecting social media information on potentially millions of people.
It has also obtained letters it says show the intelligence agencies’ oversight body had not been informed that UK intelligence agencies had shared bulk databases of personal data with foreign governments, law enforcement and industry — raising concerns about effective oversight of the mass surveillance programs.
The documents have come out as a result of an ongoing legal challenge Privacy International has brought against UK intelligence agencies’ use of bulk personal data collection as an investigatory power. (The group also has various other active legal challenges, including to state hacking).
It says now that the Investigatory Powers Commissioner’s Office (IPCO) oversight body “sought immediate inspection when secret practices came to light” as a result of its litigation.
The use by UK spooks of so-called bulk personal datasets (BPDs) — aka massive databases of personal information — was only publicly revealed in March 2015, via an Intelligence and Security Committee report, which also raised various concerns about their use.
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