A new campaign by human rights watchdog Privacy International could allow millions of citizens in Britain and elsewhere to have data that was collected on them deleted.
The Privacy International campaign, “Did GCHQ illegally spy on you?”, gives people the chance to submit a form that the pressure group will then to take to the UK Investigatory Powers Tribunal. The tribunal ruled earlier this month that GCHQ’s collection of data given to them by the NSA was “unlawful”, a decision that could potentially lead to citizens asking for their details to be deleted. People can sign up through Privacy International’s website, giving personal details that will then be collated and taken to the court. Privacy International will request that GCHQ “come clean” on the surveillance that it has on those people.
The tribunal’s decision was announced on February 6, with campaigners saying at the time that the ruling could open up the possibility for mass deletion of information. It was the first time that the court ruled against the intelligence agencies since it was established in 2000.
It found that GCHQ collecting data from the NSA’s Prism and Upstream programmes was unlawful, because the rules governing the collection were kept secret.
According to documents disclosed by Edward Snowden, those programmes spied “by default”, meaning that millions of people could have had information taken by GCHQ.
“The public have a right to know if they were illegally spied on, and GCHQ must come clean on whose records they hold that they should never have had in the first place,” said Eric King, deputy director of Privacy International. “There are few chances that people have to directly challenge the seemingly unrestrained surveillance state, but individuals now have a historic opportunity finally hold GCHQ accountable for their unlawful actions."