Euro­pean court says Bri­tain’s mass sur­veil­lance pro­gram vi­o­lates ci­ti­zen rights

Global Times - - World -

Europe’s top rights court ruled Thurs­day that Bri­tain’s pro­gram of mass sur­veil­lance, re­vealed by whistle­blower Ed­ward Snow­den as part of his sen­sa­tional leaks on US spy­ing, vi­o­lated peo­ple’s right to pri­vacy.

Rul­ing in the case of Big Brother Watch and Oth­ers ver­sus the UK, the Euro­pean Court of Hu­man Rights in Stras­bourg, France, said the in­ter­cep­tion of jour­nal­is­tic ma­te­rial also vi­o­lated the right to free­dom of in­for­ma­tion.

The case was brought by a group of jour­nal­ists and rights ac­tivists who be­lieve that their data may have been tar­geted.

The court ruled that the ex­is­tence of the sur­veil­lance pro­gram “did not in and of it­self vi­o­late the con­ven­tion” but noted “that such a regime had to re­spect cri­te­ria set down in its case-law.”

They con­cluded that the mass trawl­ing for in­for­ma­tion by Bri­tain’s GCHQ spy agency vi­o­lated Ar­ti­cle 8 of the Euro­pean Con­ven­tion on Hu­man Rights be­cause there was “in­suf­fi­cient over­sight” of the pro­gram.

The court found the over­sight to be dou­bly de­fi­cient, in the way in which the GCHQ se­lected in­ter­net providers for in­ter­cept­ing data and then fil­tered the mes­sages, and the way, in which in­tel­li­gence agents se­lected which data to ex­am­ine.

It de­ter­mined that the regime cov­er­ing how the spy agency ob­tained data from in­ter­net and phone com­pa­nies was “not in ac­cor­dance with the law.”

In a fur­ther vic­tory for the 16 com­plainants the court ruled that the pro­gram also pro­vided “in­suf­fi­cient safe­guards in re­spect of con­fi­den­tial jour­nal­is­tic ma­te­rial,” vi­o­lat­ing Ar­ti­cle 10 of the Euro­pean con­ven­tion, which pro­tects free­dom of ex­pres­sion and in­for­ma­tion.

But it dis­missed claims that Bri­tain fur­ther vi­o­lated the pri­vacy of those, on whom it snooped by shar­ing in­tel­li­gence with for­eign gov­ern­ments.

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