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UK mass surveillance programme violates human rights, European court rules

Published: September 13, 2018
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Source: Independent UK

The UK government’s mass surveillance programme violated human rights and had “no real safeguards”, the European Court of Human Rights (EHCR) has said in a landmark ruling.

The Strasbourg court said British intelligence agencies’ interception regime violated the right to a private and family life, since there was “insufficient oversight” over which communications were chosen for examination.

Not enough protection was given to journalistic sources by the government’s mass information collection programme, violating the right to freedom of expression, it also said.

But the court ruled that sharing the information with foreign governments did not violate either the right to a private and family life, or to free speech.

The case, brought by a group of charities including human rights groups Big Brother Watch and Amnesty International, centred on complaints about powers given to security services under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (Ripa).

It is the first major challenge to the legality of the UK’s bulk collection of communications and follows revelations that both the US and British governments were gathering communications on a “population-level”.

Former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) whistleblower Edward Snowden is still living in exile in Russia after leaking the information.


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UK mass surveillance broke human rights convention, European court rules []

UK's NSA -- GCHQ -- has lost legal battle after legal battle in recent years, most of those triggered by the Snowden leaks. The UK Appeals Court ruled its bulk collection of internet communications metadata illegal earlier this year. This followed a 2015 loss in lawsuit filed over the interception of privileged communications, resulting in a destruction order targeting everything collected by GCHQ that fell under that heading.

Reporters Without Borders warns Britain is approaching tipping point in wake of passage of Investigatory Powers Act

The court of appeal ruling on Tuesday said the powers in the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act 2014, which paved the way for the snooper’s charter legislation, did not restrict the accessing of confidential personal phone and web browsing records to investigations of serious crime, and allowed police and other public bodies to authorise their own access without adequate oversight.

A new watchdog charged with regulating state surveillance has started work, with the aim of keeping in check the state’s ability to spy on its own citizens. Lord Justice Fulford has taken office as the first investigatory powers commissioner (IPC), amalgamating the three watchdog roles which had previously overseen surveillance powers in the UK.

Today we live in an age where there is a technology battle front being waged against citizens of the West and the people are losing it on every front – nowhere is that battle raging most in Western democracies than in Britain. Britain already has a reputation for deploying the most intrusive surveillance systems against its own people in the Western world. Widely reported just a few days ago, it appears the government has just awarded itself the ability to monitor and surveil the live communications of the British general public at will. In addition, it also forces encryption backdoors to be made available to the authorities by privacy driven communications services such as WhatsApp. This is an exploit that will see a considerable degrading of security for everyone in Britain, which will inevitably lead to hugely increased hacking by criminals.

The UK government has secretly drawn up more details of its new bulk surveillance powers – awarding itself the ability to monitor Brits' live communications, and insert encryption backdoors by the backdoor.

Reporters without Borders just published its annual World Press Freedom Index rankings, and the results for both the U.S. and UK are not impressive. Both countries declined two spots from last year, with the UK at 41, and the greatest and most free nation on earth, America, down to 43.

British politicians exempt themselves from warrantless spying under the Snoopers Charter

A sweeping new surveillance regime is set to become UK law before the end of the year after the Investigatory Powers Bill passed through the House of Lords on Wednesday. The legislation, dubbed the ‘snooper’s charter,’ creates a legal framework authorizing the government to hack into devices, networks and services in bulk. The law will allow for large databases of personal information on UK citizens to be maintained. It requires internet, phone and communication app companies to store records for 12 months and allow authorities to access them on demand. That data could be anything from internet search history, calls made or messages sent.

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