In a landmark ruling, the European Court of Human Rights has declared that bulk communications gathering by Britain’s GCHQ spy agency was illegal, proving whistleblower Edward Snowden right, and prompting more calls for the former NSA contractor to be pardoned.
The court noted that there were “fundamental deficiencies” in the GCHQ’s interception of communications, namely that no politician or independent body had authorised the data gathering, that search terms GCHQ used to trawl through the data had not been included in a warrant application, and that individual names, email addresses, and phone numbers had not been authorised to be used by the spooks.
Former editor of The Guardian, Alan Rusbridger, who had to destroy hard drives given to him by Snowden in 2013 before the government seized them, lauded the ruling:
Snowden revealed that the GCHQ was scouring all online and telephone data in the UK via a program code named ‘Tempora’.
Snowden responded, saying that he couldn’t have done what he did without journalists and human rights lawyers:
Without journalists to tell the story, the public would not have known about it.— Edward Snowden (@Snowden) May 25, 2021
Without human right lawyers defending that public, the courts would not have cared about it.
Without those courts, politicians would still be denying it.
I could not have done this alone. https://t.co/TqqLzEj3Ht
🚨 BREAKING: UK mass surveillance found unlawful by Europe’s highest human rights court.— Big Brother Watch (@BigBrotherWatch) May 25, 2021
This confirms definitively that the UK’s bulk interception practices were unlawful for decades, a finding that vindicates @Snowden's whistleblowing
The ruling led to new calls for Snowden, still hiding out in Moscow, as well as Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, languishing in prison, to be given their lives back:
Big Brother Watch Director @silkiecarlo:
“This judgment confirms that the UK’s mass spying breached citizens’ rights to privacy and free expression for decades."
"Today, Mr @Snowden's courageous whistleblowing is vindicated as is the tireless work of Big Brother Watch and our allies in this pursuit of justice. Mr Snowden clearly deserves the protection of democratic nations across Europe for his selfless defence of human rights.
"Mass surveillance damages democracies under the cloak of defending them, and we welcome the Court’s acknowledgement of this. As one judge put it, we are at great risk of living in an electronic “Big Brother” in Europe."
"We welcome the judgment that the UK’s surveillance regime was unlawful, but the missed opportunity for the Court to prescribe clearer limitations and safeguards mean that risk is current and real."
"We will continue our work to protect privacy, from parliament to the courts, until intrusive mass surveillance practices are ended.”
What should happen: a FULL pardon for @Snowden & a hero's welcome home.— Ed v2.021 (@civorep) May 25, 2021
What IS happening: No pardon and the spying continues.
The GCHQ continues to spy on British citizens, as we reported last November it has been monitoring the movement of British people minute by minute to check if they are complying with government restrictions.
According to reports, the spy agency embedded a ‘cell’ within Number 10 Downing Street in order to provide Prime Minister Boris Johnson with real time information pertaining to the public’s movements.
Words we didn't expect to read in 2020:— Big Brother Watch (@BigBrotherWatch) November 19, 2020
"GCHQ analysts have been given access to mobile phone data to track the public's movements during the national lockdown. The up-to-the-minute reports on compliance are passed to the Prime Minister"https://t.co/SKqk5uRw0z
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