Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Privacy International files legal challenge against UK government over mass surveillance programmes

Privacy International
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 proportionate.
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.

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