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Sharing mass surveillance data was illegal but is now OK, UK tribunal rules

Loek Essers | Feb. 9, 2015
The sharing of mass surveillance data between U.S. and U.K. intelligence services was unlawful before December 2014, but since then it has become legal, a U.K. tribunal has ruled.

"For far too long, intelligence agencies like GCHQ and NSA have acted like they are above the law. Today's decision confirms to the public what many have said all along -- over the past decade, GCHQ and the NSA have been engaged in an illegal mass surveillance sharing program that has affected millions of people around the world," said Eric King , deputy director of Privacy International, who added that agencies should not be allowed to continue justifying mass surveillance programs using secret interpretations of secret laws.

More work needs to be done though, he said. A last-minute clean-up effort by the U.K. government "is plainly not enough to fix what remains a massive loophole in the law, and we hope that the European Court decides to rule in favor of privacy rather than unchecked State power."

Both Privacy International and Bytes for All will now ask the court to confirm whether their communications were unlawfully collected prior to December 2014 and, if so, they will demand their immediate deletion. Both parties will also file a suit with the European Court of Human Rights challenging the tribunal's December 2014 decision.

 

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