Govt mass surveillance violated human rights, European Court rules

Govt mass surveillance violated human rights, European Court rules

In a 6-1 vote Thursday, the seven-judge European Court of Human Rights ruled the "bulk interception regime" breached privacy and compromised journalists and their sources and violated parts of the European Convention on Human Rights. "For five long years, governments have denied that global mass surveillance violates of your rights". The Guardian explains that after Snowden exposed the British government's role in citizen surveillance, tapping into communication networks to suck on that massive firehose of data, 14 human rights and privacy groups filed suit against the United Kingdom.

The former Central Intelligence Agency employee revealed that security services had been collecting bulk data, including telephone calls, messages and internet communication, whether or not people were suspected of a crime.

They centred on complaints about powers given to security services under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA) - which was later replaced with the Investigatory Powers Act (IPA) in November 2016.

They said Britain's activities - many of them run from GCHQ (Government Communications Headquarters), a vast intelligence gathering center in Cheltenham - could threaten the privacy of journalists, who may fear their contact lists or the websites they visit are being scrutinized by the government.

But it said such programmes require sufficient oversight to keep the surveillance to what is "necessary in a democratic society".

"We believe that they can and they must provide us with a targeted surveillance regime rather than a bulk regime that has adequate safeguards to protect our rights - that's very possible for them to do", said Goulding.

It said: "The content of an electronic communication might be encrypted and, even if it were decrypted, might not reveal anything of note about the sender or recipient".

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The court had also been asked to consider whether there had been violations of other parts of the convention, but found that the arguments put forward for a number of these challenges were inadmissible.

The court has been ordered to pay the first group of applicants, led by Big Brother Watch, €150,000 of their claimed costs and the second group (the Bureau and Ross) €35,000.

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.

Today's ruling is the latest in a long line that have found against the government's former snooping law, which has since been superseded by the Investigatory Powers Act.

"We will push on with our High Court challenge against the Investigatory Powers Act and I'm sure we'll draw on the judgement of today to explain why it means that act is also unlawful", she added.

Britain has changed its surveillance laws since the legal challenge began, passing new legislation that the government says has more privacy safeguards.

Silkie Carlo, of Big Brother Watch, added: "This landmark judgment confirming that the UK's mass spying breached fundamental rights vindicates Mr Snowden's courageous whistleblowing". "This judgement is a vital step towards protecting millions of law-abiding citizens from unjustified intrusion". "However, since the new Investigatory Powers Act arguably poses an ever greater threat to civil liberties, our work is far from over".

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