Britain’s mass web-spying faulted by European rights court

Edward Snowden leaked information about intelligence programmes

Edward Snowden leaked information about intelligence programmes

The suit was brought by Big Brother Watch, Amnesty International, the American Civil Liberties Union, and a number of other civil liberties organizations from Europe and North America, as well as the Bureau of Investigative Journalism and others. Snowden also revealed that this information was being shared with foreign governments, including the United States, in a mass surveillance programme with no basis in law or proper safeguards.

In its judgment, the court expressed particular concern over the ability of intelligence services to search and examine data that identifies senders and recipients of messages "apparently without restriction".

The judges ruled against the 16 complainants on the question of whether Britain further violated their privacy by sharing intelligence with foreign governments, saying that did not constitute a breach of their rights.

"First, the lack of oversight of the entire selection process, including the selection of bearers for interception, the selectors and search criteria for filtering intercepted communications, and the selection of material for examination by an analyst".

Judges voted six to one the effort by its intelligence agency GCHQ for obtaining data from communications providers was "not in accordance with the law", and there were "insufficient safeguards in respect of confidential journalistic material".

"The courts decided today that a free and democratic nation like the United Kingdom can't just spy on all of its citizens without adequate protection and that you have to respect citizens' rights to privacy and freedom of expression", she added.

The court found that operating a bulk interception regime did not of itself violate the European Convention on Human Rights but that any such regime must contain adequate safeguards against abuse.

Following the leaks, the complainants suspected that British and U.S. spy agencies may have intercepted their electronic communications.

Household incomes rise to new high, but rate of health coverage flattens
Much of these gains in household income and workforce participation come as the economy's strength continues to climb in 2018. The nation's median income - the midpoint where half makes more and half less - didn't start rising again until 2014.

The challenge was instigated following the revelations from USA whistle-blower Edward Snowden.

The reason there's so much resistance to change, she argued, is that the government has never wanted to change how it collects data in the first place - and if it wasn't for the Snowden revelations, it would have quietly gathered up everything possible in the name of security.

"Such data enables intrusion into the most intimate aspects of a person's daily life", Dinah Rose, one of the applicants' lawyers, told the court in hearings past year.

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

"In view of the risk that a system of secret surveillance set up to protect national security may undermine or even destroy democracy under the cloak of defending it, the Court must be satisfied that there are adequate and effective guarantees against abuse", the court added.

It noted that some of the data scooped up by the GCHQ "could reveal a great deal about a person's habits and contacts".

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.

The court gave Britain, which is in the process of altering legislation on the issue, three months to decide whether to request an appeal hearing.

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