Spy agencies broke the law by snooping on privacy campaigners

CCTV cameras

On 26 September, a tribunal ruled that British spy agencies broke the law by storing and reviewing data belonging to Privacy International (PI). The advocacy group launched a challenge against MI5, GCHQ, and the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS – aka MI6) at the Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT) in June 2015. The IPT hears complaints against the security services.

Spooks have acted unlawfully

The IPT says that MI5, the GCHQ, and the SIS all illegally held data belonging to PI. The spy agencies hoovered up PI’s details as part of its mass surveillance regimes.

Secret investigations into Privacy International?

The Canary reported yesterday that MI5 admitted to “unlawfully” retaining PI’s bulk data. MI5 said this was part of “investigations” involving PI. The exact nature of these “investigations” remains unclear. The IPT confirmed that MI5 violated the law by storing and accessing PI’s bulk data. MI5 told the IPT that it destroyed this illegally retained information on 24 September, the day before the last hearing.

GCHQ and SIS get a pass

The IPT also determined that the other spy agencies, GCHQ and SIS, never accessed PI’s illegally acquired information. The IPT says it merely stored it. It is unclear how the IPT reached this decision. But it is worth noting that these are the same agencies that, until recently, illegally operated a decades-long mass surveillance programme in complete secrecy. Furthermore, the agencies which committed these acts will almost certainly not face criminal prosecution. Meanwhile, mass surveillance continues to this day.

Surveillance powers violate human rights

The IPT is waiting for a decision from the European Court of Justice as to whether the UK’s surveillance powers violate EU law.

The European Court of Human Rights has already declared parts of these spying powers to be unlawful. The court specifically ruled that Britain’s spying powers violate the right to a private and family life and freedom of expression. These are enshrined in Articles 8 and 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights. The UK Human Rights Act of 1998 also enshrines all of these rights.

Read on...

There is no evidence that this decision will result in any criminal prosecutions. Meanwhile, millions of innocent people continue to have their most intimate information collected and stored by the surveillance state.

Get Involved!

Write to your MP and demand they bring bulk domestic surveillance to an end.

Support independent journalism at The Canary.

Featured image via Pexels

We need your help to keep speaking the truth

Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.

Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.

We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.

In return, you get:

* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop

Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.

With your help we can continue:

* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do

We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?

The Canary Support us

Comments are closed