UK Government to defend mass surveillance practices against legal challenge
Tribunal will hear case from civil liberty groups alleging that surveillance programmes such as Tempora and Prism breached human rights
A legal challenge to the legitimacy of UK’s mass surveillance programmes begins this week in the country’s most secretive court.
The case held at the Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT) could see GCHQ, the government’s intelligence and information gathering agency, confirm or even defend the existence of project Tempora – the UK’s most powerful mass surveillance tool.
Details of project Tempora were disclosed in documents leaked by Edward Snowden but the UK Government has yet to either confirm or deny its existence.
The leaks, first published in the Guardian newspaper, outlined a massive operation that became operational in 2011, using intercept hardware on the fibre-optic cables that make up the ‘backbone’ of the internet to directly sift traffic from around the world.
The operation – described in internal documents titled ‘Mastering the Internet’ – allegedly stores content for three days at a time, allowing GCHQ and NSA operatives to search the private messages of both ordinary citizens and criminal suspects using keywords, names or email addresses.
This week’s legal challenge – brought by Amnesty International, Liberty, the American Civil Liberties Union and other groups – alleges that Tempora exists and that it breaches articles 8 and 10 of the European Convention of Human Rights, which provide for the right to privacy and freedom of expression.
Since the IPT was established 14 years ago no complaints against the practices of the intelligence services have been upheld.
The nearest the government has come to a defence of its surveillance programs to date came in June when Charles Farr, the country’s most senior intelligence official, said that the mass interception of activity on Facebook, Twitter and Google was legal because these services counted as “external communications”.
The tribunal comes just days after the government announced an emergency bill extending the government’s ability to access user data collected by ISPs after the European Union ruled such powers illegal.
A statement published by Amnesty International says that this will be the "first time" that intelligence agencies have appeared in a public hearing "answer direct allegations and state their position on the mass surveillance operations as a whole, since the Snowden revelations".
Life & Style blogs
Hair loss explained: How and why men go bald
iPhone 6s camera: features to include 4K video camera and flash for selfies
No, a porn star wasn't tricked into performing a sex act on her brother
A pint of water every day is the key to losing weight, scientists say
Ashley Madison hack: Just three in every 10,000 female accounts on infidelity website are real
Dresden riots: Protesters in Germany attack refugee buses shouting 'foreigners out'
France train shooting: US soldiers speak of the moment they stopped gunman and 'beat him until he was unconscious'
Labour leadership: Jeremy Corbyn accused of 'deluding' young supporters with 'claptrap'
'Women only' train carriages: Jeremy Corbyn unveils radical move to tackle public harassment
Black holes are a passage to another universe, says Stephen Hawking
Iain Duncan Smith 'should resign over disability benefit death figures', says Jeremy Corbyn
- 1 Game of Thrones season 6: Jon Snow theorists believe Ned Stark's son may have a twin sister
- 2 Artist takes LSD, draws herself over different stages of the 9-hour trip to show its effects
- 3 Miley Cyrus address Robin Thicke VMA controversy: ‘He wanted me as naked as possible, but I got the heat because I’m a woman’
- 4 iPhone 6s camera: features to include 4K video camera and flash for selfies
- 5 A pint of water every day is the key to losing weight, scientists say
iJobs Gadgets & Tech
£20000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT provider for the educat...
£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leader in the e-cigarette ...
£32000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: With extensive experience and a...
£13000 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They focus on four deeply overl...