‘We must not allow agencies to continue justifying mass surveillance programmes using secret interpretations of secret laws,’ said Privacy International director Eric King.
The Investigatory Powers Tribunal found on Friday that the British intelligence agency GCHQ violated human rights laws by spying on citizens and sharing information with the NSA. (Photo: Stefano Bertolotti/flickr/cc)
In the latest vindication of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, a U.K. ruled on Friday that the British government violated human rights law by failing to safeguard some aspects of its intelligence-sharing operations until December 2014.
The Investigatory Powers Tribunal found that the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) accessed information obtained by the National Security Agency (NSA) without sufficient oversight, violating Articles 8 and 10 of the European convention on human rights. According to Reuters, “The tribunal’s concern, addressed in the new ruling, was that until details of how GCHQ and the NSA shared data were made public in the course of the court proceedings, the legal safeguards provided by British law were being side-stepped.”
The Guardian adds, “The ruling appears to suggest that aspects of the operations were illegal for at least seven years—between 2007, when the Prism intercept [program] was introduced, and 2014.”
Article 8 guarantees the right to privacy; Article 10 protects free expression.
“For far too long, intelligence agencies like GCHQ and NSA have acted like they are above the law,” said Eric King, deputy director of Privacy International, one of the human rights groups that brought the case to the IPT. “Today’s decision confirms to the public what many have said all along—over the past decade, GCHQ and the NSA have been engaged in an illegal mass surveillance sharing program that has affected millions of people around the world.”
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