May 262021
 May 26, 2021  Posted by  Court, Featured News, Non-U.S., Surveillance

European Court of Human Rights.  Image: © Steve Allen |

Big Brother Watch writes:

The Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights today ruled that the UK’s mass interception programmes, disclosed by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, unlawfully breached citizens’ rights to privacy and free expression.

Campaign groups Big Brother Watch, Open Rights Group, English PEN computer science expert Dr. Constanze Kurz brought the challenge following Mr Snowden’s revelations in 2013, joined by Amnesty International, Liberty, Privacy International, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism and others.

The judgment confirms definitively that the UK’s bulk interception practices were unlawful for decades, a finding that vindicates Mr Snowden’s whistleblowing.

Documents provided by Mr Snowden revealed that the UK intelligence agency GCHQ was conducting “population-scale” interception, capturing the communications of millions of innocent people. The mass spying programmes included:

  • TEMPORA, a bulk data store of all internet traffic;
  • KARMA POLICE, a catalogue including a “web browsing profile for every visible user on the internet”;
  • Black Hole, a repository of over 1 trillion events including internet histories, email and instant messenger records, search engine queries and social media activity.

In September 2018, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that the UK’s mass interception programmes breached the European Convention on Human Rights as they lacked adequate safeguards. The landmark judgment marked the Court’s first ruling on UK mass surveillance since Mr Snowden’s revelations.

However, the campaign groups argued that the judgment did not go far enough in declaring the mass surveillance practices unlawful, pushing the case up to the Grand Chamber.

Read more on Big Brother Watch.

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