Amnesty International sues the UK over spying

April 13, 2015 | 11:14

Tags: #edward-snowden #human-rights #mi5 #privacy #security #snowden #spying

Companies: #amnesty-international #gchq #liberty #mi6 #privacy-international

Amnesty International has announced that it is to partner with Liberty and Privacy International to take the UK government to court over its mass surveillance programmes.

The public was alerted to the UK's tendency to indiscriminately capture communications from, to, and between citizens without so much as a court order by whistleblower Edward Snowden, but despite plenty of negative press the privacy violations continue. That, Amnesty International has stated, is not on. 'The UK government’s surveillance practices have been allowed to continue unabated and on an unprecedented scale, with major consequences for people’s privacy and freedom of expression,' bemoaned Nick Williams, legal counsel at Amnesty International. 'No-one is above the law and the European Court of Human Rights now has a chance to make that clear.'

Amnesty International, along with Liberty and Privacy International, have filed a joint application to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg complaining that the recent ruling from the Investigatory Powers Tribunal that surveillance programmes used by the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), MI5 and MI6 were compliant with human rights legislation is untrue - and that the IPT's investigation was carried out in secret. 'It is ridiculous that the government has been allowed to rely on the existence of secret policies and procedures discussed with the Tribunal behind closed doors – to demonstrate that it is being legally transparent,' claims Williams.

'Mass surveillance is a violation of our fundamental rights. Intercepting millions of communications every day, and secretly receiving millions more from the NSA by the back door is neither necessary nor proportionate,' added Carly Nyst, legal director of Privacy International, of the groups' decision to appeal to the Strasbourg court. 'While the IPT sided with GCHQ and against the rights of millions of people, Europe’s highest human rights court has a strong history of ensuring intelligence agencies are compliant with human rights law. We hope that the Court continues this tradition and GCHQ is finally held accountable for its unfettered spying on the world’s communications.'

The legal application claims that UK domestic law is in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights, thanks to GCHQ-led programmes like TEMPORA. The UK government and its security services have yet to respond to the appeal, statements of fact from which can be downloaded here.
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