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GCHQ's mass surveillance of the internet 'breached human rights'

The mass surveillance of the internet by UK intelligence services, undertaken prior to December, has been ruled as 'unlawful' and a 'breach of human rights' by an Investigatory Powers Tribunal.

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GCHQ breached human rights by not 'publicly disclosing' practices

An Investigatory Powers Tribunal has found that the mass surveillance activities of UK intelligence agency GCHQ had breached human rights laws, prior to December last year, because the frameworks in place to protect those under surveillance "were not publicly disclosed."

Rules governing the UK's access to the NSA's mass surveillance programmes Prism and Upstream, were kept secret until they were revealed by the Government in December at which point the spy agency's activities became compliant with the European Court of Human Rights.

The Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT) has ruled that mass surveillance of the internet by UK intelligence services prior to December was unlawful Credit: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

Human rights group Liberty welcomed the IPT's ruling that the mass surveillance of citizens by UK intelligence agency GCHQ had previously been in breach of human rights laws.

James Welch, legal director for Liberty, said: "We now know that, by keeping the public in the dark about their secret dealings with the National Security Agency, GCHQ acted unlawfully and violated our rights.

"That their activities are now deemed lawful is thanks only to the degree of disclosure Liberty and the other claimants were able to force from our secrecy-obsessed Government."

The IPT ruled that mass surveillance of the internet by UK intelligence now complies with legislation.

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