GCHQ does not breach human rights, judges rule


A case claiming various systems of interception by GCHQ constituted a breach had been brought by Amnesty, Privacy International and others.

It followed revelations by the former US intelligence analyst Edward Snowden about UK and US surveillance practices.

But the judges said questions remained about GCHQ’s previous activities.

Some of the organisations who brought the case, including Amnesty UK and Privacy International, say they intend to appeal the decision to the European Court of Human Rights.

The case led to extensive disclosures of the intelligence agency system, including mass surveillance programmes known as Prism and Tempora.

‘Webcam watching’

The Privacy International pressure group had said the documents released by Mr Snowden detailed the many ways that GCHQ was spying on people, many of which violated the European Convention on Human Rights.

This guarantees a right to privacy and to freedom of expression.

The group also said the programmes run by GCHQ and the United States’s National Security Agency – uncovered by Mr Snowden – let the agencies listen via microphones, watch through webcams and scoop up detailed web browsing histories.

The bodies bringing the case to tribunal argued that GCHQ’s methods breached article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which is the right to privacy, as well as article 10, which protects freedom of expression.

But the judges at the Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT) said the disclosures made during this case, which included the legal footing of the intelligence system’s activities, had contributed to their decision that the intelligence agencies were not in breach of human rights.

In a written judgment, a panel of IPT judges said: “We have been able to satisfy ourselves that as of today there is no contravention of articles 8 and 10 by reference to those systems.

“We have left open for further argument the question..

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