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Court Rules UK Mass Spying Was Unlawfully Conducted for Nearly Two Decades

Saturday, October 22, 2016 23:25
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Decision called ‘long overdue indictment’ of government’s bulk collection of citizens’ private information

by Jon Queally

spying_eyesA government legal panel said both the collection and holding of personal data breached the British people’s right to privacy. (Photograph: Andrew Bret Wallis/Getty Images)

In what rights campaigners heralded as a “significant” reproach to government overreach, a British court which oversees the nation’s  intelligence and clandestine services ruled Monday that mass surveillance by agencies—including the bulk collection of private data from unwitting citizens and residents—was unlawfully conducted for nearly two decades.

Called the Investigatory Powers Tribunal, the panel of judges which provides legal oversight and hears challenges submitted against the country’s Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), as well as the clandestine services known as M15 and M16, said the surveillance regime was “without adequate safeguards or supervision” during secret spying operations over the course of 17 years, from 1998 to 2015. As the Guardianreports:

The tribunal said the regime governing the collection of bulk communications data (BCD) – the who, where, when and what of personal phone and web communications – failed to comply with article 8 protecting the right to privacy of the European convention of human rights (ECHR) between 1998, when it started, and 4 November 2015, when it was made public.

It added that the retention of of bulk personal datasets (BPD) – which might include medical and tax records, individual biographical details, commercial and financial activities, communications and travel data – also failed to comply with article 8 for the decade it was in operation until it was public acknowledged in March 2015.

Privacy International, a surveillance watchdog group which brought the challenge to the tribunal in the summer of 2015, called the tribunal’s ruling “one of the most significant indictments of the secret use of the Government’s mass surveillance powers since Edward Snowden first began exposing the extent of US and UK spying in 2013.”

[more…]

Thank you Soren

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