GCHQ’s snooping on UK citizens entirely unlawful – tribunal

6 Feb 2015

The GCHQ building. Image via UK Ministry of Defence/Flickr

The UK’s Government Communications Headquarters’ (GCHQ) snooping on citizens using information passed down from the US National Security Agency (NSA) was entirely unlawful, according to a tribunal.

The UK’s Investigative Powers Tribunal (IPT), established to allow people to come forward and reveal instances where they believed their government was unlawfully monitoring their own private communications, passed down the judgment.

According to The Guardian, this recent challenge was brought before the IPT as part of a collaborative legal effort between a number of civil liberties groups, including Liberty and Privacy International.

The groups argued for the illegality of the GCHQ’s entire surveillance programme, including its collaboration with the NSA and its own involvement in the PRISM and Upstream mass surveillance programmes.

This ruling by the IPT marks the first time the organisation has made a ruling against any government organisation, having only last month ruled that the GCHQ’s activities were not a breach of human rights, as many of the civil liberties groups had stated was the case.

In its ruling, the IPT said the British government had ‘contravened’ Article 8 and Article 10 of the European Convention of Human Rights, but has since changed its operation so as to now once again comply.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic