July 8, 2013
In the wake of revelations that the UK Government is accessing
wide-ranging intelligence information from the US and is conducting mass
surveillance on citizens across the UK, Privacy International today
commenced legal action against the Government, charging that the
expansive spying regime is seemingly operated outside of the rule of
law, lacks any accountability, and is neither necessary nor
The claim, filed in the Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT), challenges the UK Government on two fronts.
Firstly, for the failure to have a publicly accessible legal framework
in which communications data of those located in the UK is accessed
after obtained and passed on by the US National Security Agency through
the Prism programme. Secondly, for the indiscriminate interception and
storing of huge amounts of data via tapping undersea fibre optic cables
through the Tempora programme.
Dinah Rose QC and Ben Jaffey from Blackstone Chambers and Dan Squires from Matrix Chambers were instructed by Bhatt Murphy Solicitors who are acting for Privacy International.
Reports state that the UK had access to the Prism programme since at least June 2010, and has generated 197 intelligence reports from
the system in 2012. Without a legal framework, which would allow
citizens to know the circumstances in which such spying would take
place, the Government effectively runs a secret surveillance regime,
making it nearly impossible to hold them accountable for any potential
abuses. The absence of this legal framework appears to be in breach of
the European Convention of Human Rights, Article 8, which provides the
right to privacy and personal communications, and Article 10, which
provides the right to freedom of expression.