Privacy group sues over NSA surveillance

2013-07-08 22:09

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

London - A London-based advocacy group filed suit over America's international data dragnet on Monday, a complaint which one expert says could have significant ramifications for the future of US-British intelligence-sharing.

In a complaint filed with the Investigatory Powers Tribunal, Britain's interception watchdog, Privacy International alleges that the National Security Agency and its British counterpart GCHQ are spying on one another's citizens and swapping the intercepted information without proper oversight.

The complaint also accuses GCHQ of overstepping British law through the mass monitoring of UK communications.

"It is a fundamental breach of the social contract if the government can operate with unrestrained power in such an arbitrary fashion," Privacy's Eric King said in a statement.

Over the past month, both the NSA and GCHQ have seen details of their globe-spanning intelligence-gathering efforts splayed across the pages of the Guardian newspaper and other outlets - leaks which have lifted the curtain on a series of programs apparently aimed at securing access to as big a chunk as possible of the world's communications.

Some in Britain have expressed concerns that GCHQ is drawing on the NSA's massive data pool to dodge restrictions on domestic espionage.

In its complaint, Privacy said it was concerned that its own communications had been intercepted by the Americans and subsequently handed to British authorities.

It demanded an immediate end to GCHQ's exploitation of NSA-obtained intelligence on British residents and an injunction against the blanket interception of UK data over fibre optic cables.

GCHQ declined to comment on the suit. UK officials have repeatedly insisted their spies work within the law.

Legal experts say Privacy's complaint faces long odds at Britain's Investigatory Powers Tribunal, where only 10 out of more than 1 000 complaints have ever been upheld.

They're divided as to its prospects should it make its way to the European Court of Human Rights - a Strasbourg, France-based, body whose rulings have occasionally frustrated UK leaders.

Simon McKay, a British human rights lawyer and an authority on surveillance law, said the failure of British officials to regulate the acquisition of foreign intelligence means it's "almost without question" that they're breach of European human rights law.

He said GCHQ could well see itself rebuffed in Strasbourg, something which could lead to a dramatic change in the way Britain swapped intelligence with its American ally.

Ian Brown, a professor of information communications law at Queen Mary, University of London, was more pessimistic, saying the otherwise robust European Court tended to be "quite deferential to member states with regard to national security."

"I don't think this is a slam-dunk," he said.

Privacy's suit is one of several which have been spawned by NSA surveillance revelations.

In the United States, groups including the Electronic Privacy Information Centre and the American Civil Liberties Union have said they are suing over the agency's spying. In Britain, civil liberties group Liberty says it is finalizing its own complaint before the Investigatory Powers Tribunal.

Read more on:    nsa  |  gchq  |  us  |  privacy

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.