Top European Court Rules UK Mass Surveillance Regime Violates Human Rights

ECHR Rules British Mass Surveillance Regime Violates European Law			The Associated Press		13 Sep 2018

ECHR Rules British Mass Surveillance Regime Violates European Law The Associated Press 13 Sep 2018

The European Court of Human Rights said spies broke the right to privacy and ignored surveillance safeguards when they carried out the data harvesting and intercepted private online conversations in bulk.

'The Court also held, by six votes to one, that: the regime for obtaining communications data from communications service providers violated Article 8 as it was not in accordance with the law; and that both the bulk interception regime and the regime for obtaining communications data from communications service providers violated Article 10 of the Convention as there were insufficient safeguards in respect of confidential journalistic material.

The ruling is not final and could be appealed.

In its ruling, the European Union court noted that "that safeguards were not sufficiently robust to provide adequate guarantees against abuse", and said it was particularly concerned that GCHQ can search and examine citizens" "related communications data' - such as location data and IP addresses - without restriction.

Documents outed by the NSA whistleblower revealed that GCHQ was conducting "population-scale" interception through the use of three programmes: Tempora, a bulk data store of all internet traffic; Karma Police a catalogue including "a web browsing profile for every visible user on the internet"; and Black Hole, a repository of over one trillion events including internet histories, email and instant messenger records, search engine queries and social media activity.

The violations concerned in particular shortcomings when it came to selecting the Internet service providers involved, as well as the search criteria used to filter and select intercepted communications for assessment.

By related communications, the court said it meant the collection of details like who calls who, from where and when - rather than the content of the communications.

They also voted by five to two the mass trawling for information violated Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights guaranteeing the right to privacy.

"The related communications data, on the other hand, could reveal the identities and geographic location of the sender and recipient and the equipment through which the communication was transmitted".

It noted that the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act, which was the subject of the challenge, had been replaced by new legislation in 2016.

"Our government has built a surveillance regime more extreme than that of any other democratic nation, abandoning the very rights and freedoms that terrorists want to attack".

The British government said it would give "careful consideration" to the court's findings.

"In light of today's judgment, it is even clearer that these powers do not meet the criteria for proportionate surveillance and that the United Kingdom government is continuing to breach our right to privacy".

Silkie Carlo, director of Big Brother Watch, said the ruling is vindication for Snowden.

"This includes the introduction of a "double lock" which requires warrants for the use of these powers to be authorised by a Secretary of State and approved by a judge", the government said in a statement.

The spokesperson added that an investigatory powers commissioner has also been created to provide oversight of how surveillance is used.

Founders of the Bureau David and Elaine Potter backed the case. "Holding the powerful to account is the most important duty of a free press", they said.

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