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United Kingdom Government Privacy The Courts The Internet Your Rights Online

UK's Most Secretive Court Rules GCHQ Mass Internet Surveillance Was Unlawful 44

Hammeh writes: Today marks the first time in its history that the Investigative Powers Tribunal (IPT), who are responsible for oversight and complaints relating to all of the UK intelligence agencies, upheld a complaint against GCHQ, stating that accessing data provided to them by the NSA was in breach of human rights. The ruling comes as the saga into online privacy continues to unfold. Last year, the same court ruled that internal surveillance of British citizens did not breach human rights. The difference: NSA data is claimed to have sidestepped the protections provided by the UK legal system. The tribunal also noted that although the UK government was willing to admit that Prism and Upstream existed (both NSA programs outed by Edward Snowden), they would not comment on the existence or non-existence of the Tempora program.
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UK's Most Secretive Court Rules GCHQ Mass Internet Surveillance Was Unlawful

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  • Very good (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 06, 2015 @09:54AM (#48997379)

    But is this going to have any consequences for those who violated the law on a massive scale?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 06, 2015 @09:56AM (#48997389)

    They KNEW they were targetting British people, they even had key journalists as targets. Not terrorists, or 'Jihadists' journalists.
    http://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2015-01/20/gchq-journalist-emails

    They KNEW they didn't have legal authority to do a full take on our data. The bill to legalize it was repeatedly pushed by Jacqui Smith and Theresa May and neither got the Snoopers Charter passed.

    It failed to pass again a few days ago, as traitors to their country pushed it through on an amendment:
    http://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2015-01/27/snoopers-charter-lords-rejected

    GCHQ spied on us for a foreign power anyway.

    They spied for the NSA on British communications and undermined our democracy. There needs to be f**ing prosecutions.

    Every politicians now has an NSA file filled with GCHQ provided information.
    Every potential poltician has an NSA file filled with GCHQ provided information.
    Every journalist has an NSA file filled with GCHQ provided information.

    They undermined us, there needs to be criminal prosecutions and the man who went ahead with this despite the law failing to pass, he needs to be prosecuted as the spy he is. He's a spy just as if he was a Russian spy working for the Russians or a Chinese spy working for the Chinese.

    And when the NSA/CIA/US Politicos use that data to leverage UK politicians to keep GCHQ spying on Brits, you GCHQ staff will know you are traitors to Britain. YOU DID THIS. You created those files that let them leverage the UK political machine. Where is the Snowden among you, that had the balls to stand up and tell us of all this illegal activity??

    And as for the US, now you can see that General Alexander sent staff to the UK to get around the US laws and spy on Americans using Tempora. He's walked away from this free as a bird, even has a consultancy, he flat out lied about spying on Americans too.

    Read this:
    http://boingboing.net/2015/02/05/ron-wyden-to-eric-holder-befo.html

    Understand that Wyden is telling you that he cannot discuss these secret commercial deals that were struck between US corporations and the NSA to hand over all their private data. US citizens too, and no doubt all of Europes.

    So all the 'cookies' nonsense, the EU got stuck with, meanwhile the NSA was cutting financial deals with the Facebook/Google/Yahoo/Microsoft/DropBox/Apple's of this world to get all of the private data. THEY got a business subsidy, and NSA got everyone's private data.

    So everyone of you now has a leverage file against you, and we cannot trust our politicians to act for their countries because of it. That goes for US politicians too, because the files will be used to prevent politicians that don't fit the military industrial complex from rising up to rule.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      No matter if it is the NSA or GCHQ, they are but apparatus of the respective governments they serve

      And the governments in question, the government of the United States of America and the government of Great Britain, supposed to be in charge by the politicians, who are elected by the people

      In other words, the people of both countries entrusted their respective nations to the politicians, and it's the politicians who are betraying the people

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        No, its the traitors who did it and kept it secret.

        When General Alexander went into Congress and told them the NSA doesn't routinely collect data on Americans, knowing full well he was a lying toerag, how is Congress supposed to then pass laws based on these lies?

        Tempora isn't even being admitted to, its secret to the MPs in the House of Commons and only a few Lords involved in this program, (and now frantically trying to legalize it) are aware of it. How is Parliament supposed to pass laws on this secret p

        • by Anonymous Coward

          You are trying very hard to shelter the politicians from any of the blames but it won't work

          Let us look at it this way ...

          We, the voting public, are the boss. We elect the politicians to manage the government which governs the nation we live in

          It is akin to, we are the boss of a store, and we hire someone to manage our store for us

          Now come NSA/GCHQ who violates the rules

          It is just like saying an employee is secretly stealing money from the cash register

          Yes, it was NSA/GCHQ who committed the crime, j

          • by Anonymous Coward

            "You are trying very hard to shelter the politicians from any of the blames but it won't work"

            I am pointing the finger at the people in the know, the GCHQ/NSA staff. How many of you listened to General Alexander lie to Congress and kept your mouths shut over there in NSA land? How many of you in GCHQ knew they were spying on British comms and kept your gobs shut?

            In Parliament, how many of those MPs could vote of the bill knowing what you lot in GCHQ were up to? Not many because only a few knew. Three Lords

  • by Anonymous Coward

    It ruled that to be in compliance it had to publish it's process, which it did to the court during the trial. As it's published it during the trial, it's now in compliance and not acting illegally.

    Nothing to see here, move along slashdot.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Legal vs. Illegal is not really the point. This is more like something I would expect from the Stasi in a police state rather than something that is going on in a supposed Democracy with supposed constitutional protections. Yes Slashdot, there is something to see here, don't move along.

  • If there were more secretive courts?
  • by Anonymous Coward

    We can't even test for explosives in our "largest terrorist attacks ever" that precipitated this modern level of public surveillance lawlessness.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    America has one

    Britain has one

    And both countries supposed to be democratic countries!

    Secretive courts supposed to be associated with countries such as China, or North Korea, or Saudi Arabia, or some banana republics, definitely NOT democratic countries

    How in hell the voters from Britain as well as from America allow such things to happen in the first place??

    • How in hell the voters from Britain as well as from America allow such things to happen in the first place??

      A true democracy works thanks to the four boxes of liberty (soap box, ballot box, jury box and ammo box).

      Our so-called "democracies" have two more (ice box and idiot box) that are more important to people than the four others: as long as people are stuffed full of junk food and can watch the football game on TV, they feel free enough.

    • How in hell the voters from Britain as well as from America allow such things to happen in the first place??

      Yeah, because us plebs have a choice in the matter.

    • by AHuxley ( 892839 )
      Re How in hell the voters from Britain as well as from America allow such things to happen in the first place??
      Addiction. For the UK it goes back to the Defence of the Realm Act 1914 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org] with the
      "To prevent persons communicating with the enemy or obtaining information for that purpose..."
      During and after ww1 the constant flow of new information became totally addictive to generations of UK governments. New laws to ensure funding continued.
      Tempora is just this decades ref
  • Wow ... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Friday February 06, 2015 @10:05AM (#48997431) Homepage

    The difference: NSA data is claimed to have sidestepped the protections provided by the UK legal system.

    Are we finally going to start seeing courts saying that the 5 eyes cheating to get around the legalities of spying on their own people by having other governments do it is a terrible idea?

    Because that would be fucking awesome. When a government has been told "you can't do this" and "this is your evidentiary standard" -- to subsequently say "well, we got it this way, it was they who broke the law so it's OK" -- well that's pretty douchebaggy.

    I would dearly love to see courts saying "Gee, the NSA has broken our law, and no matter if they think it's legal it isn't".

    These assholes have decided they have no jurisdiction, and I'd like to see someone remind them that they do.

    The world hasn't consented to be spied on by the NSA, so I'd love to see them and their counterparts brought up onto shorter leashes. Or shorter ropes.

    They're like dogs who bite, if you don't get that under control you might have to put them down. And if they're going to sidestep the law, then they definitely should be put down.

    • The world hasn't consented to be spied on by the NSA

      The world isn't supposed to consent to being spied upon by the NSA. If the world did consent, there'd be no point in having an NSA.

      No, this article isn't a question of whether the NSA can spy on the UK (if we have the "national technical means", we can spy, if not, not), it's whether GCHQ can USE the take from NSA spying to get around BRITISH espionage laws. Answer: it CANNOT.

      Note that this decision by the Brits will NOT stop the NSA from spying on th

      • Re:Wow ... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Friday February 06, 2015 @10:59AM (#48997855) Homepage

        The world isn't supposed to consent to being spied upon by the NSA. If the world did consent, there'd be no point in having an NSA.

        Well, allow me to make this clear on behalf of the rest of the world ...

        If the choice is between my privacy and liberty versus the lives of Americans ... I will choose that Americans have to die before I give up my rights. Because if you think your rights are more important than my rights I don't give a fuck about you.

        So America's sense of entitlement doesn't mean the rest of the world agrees.

        Stop acting like the rest of the world should simply be saying "well, if it's for the security of Americans it's alright". It isn't.

        There was a time when Americans would be outraged at this shit. Now they just say how it's OK because that's the job of the NSA.

        Honestly, America is a bigger threat to the liberties of more people in the world than any Jihadi is.

        And it's time we stopped pretending that a global surveillance state foisted on us by you guys is acceptable.

      • Re:Wow ... (Score:4, Informative)

        by Yakasha ( 42321 ) on Friday February 06, 2015 @12:39PM (#48998633) Homepage

        No, this article isn't a question of whether the NSA can spy on the UK (if we have the "national technical means", we can spy, if not, not), it's whether GCHQ can USE the take from NSA spying to get around BRITISH espionage laws. Answer: it CANNOT.

        Incorrect. You have to get past the headline & read the article. The ruling was not that using the data was illegal. The ruling was that using the data without telling the public how you obtained it, was illegal. Now that they've explained how they got it, it is back to business as usual.

        From the article:

        The UK government issued a robust defence of GCHQ on Friday and said the judgment would not alter in any way the work of the monitoring agency. The prime minister’s spokeswoman said: “Overall, the judgment this morning is that the UK’s interception regime is fully lawful. That follows on from the courts clear rejection of accusations of mass surveillance in their December judgment and we welcome that.

        emphasis mine.

      • You say that as if there is a point to the NSA? The best thing we could do for national security is to nuke it from orbit.
  • by Rosco P. Coltrane ( 209368 ) on Friday February 06, 2015 @10:10AM (#48997467)

    National espionage agencies operate outside the law these days anyway.

  • guess its time to change the law

  • by wonkey_monkey ( 2592601 ) on Friday February 06, 2015 @10:25AM (#48997569) Homepage

    they would not comment on the existence or non-existence of the Tempora program.

    That's because it's actually the tempura program, and no-one wants that taken away from them.

  • More about Tempora (Score:3, Informative)

    by RuffMasterD ( 3398975 ) on Friday February 06, 2015 @10:51AM (#48997787)
    Some [wikipedia.org] links [theguardian.com] to pages describing Tempora.

    I think the fact that UK Defence officials issued a Defence Advisory Notice to the BBC requesting they don't mention certain espionage programs, which may-or-may-not exist, basically confirms that they in fact do exist. It's damn near an official acknowledgement even. Same goes for the US Army restricting personel access to The Guardian website since they started mentionain PRISM and Tempora. Well done chaps!
  • by Trailer Trash ( 60756 ) on Friday February 06, 2015 @11:42AM (#48998187) Homepage

    I mean, in a sardonic way. They go to such great lengths to say "IT'S ILLEGAL!!!" and "THEY CAN'T DO THAT". They dance around, yell about all this, and they're doing that so that you won't notice something conspicuous in its absence: consequences.

    Imagine if you robbed a liquor store and went to court and the judge yelled about how it's illegal to rob liquor stores, you should have known that, yes, you, liquor store robber! You law breaker! Scoundrel! You're terrible, I can't believe you robbed the liquor store. Okay, you can leave now, just don't rob any more liquor stores because it's illegal to do that!

    It's ludicrous, really. We need to understand that these issues are far more serious than people knocking off liquor stores and it's time we started treating it as such. Real consequences for those who broke the law - and I don't mean the minimum security marriott.

    • Consequences to a government agency are not and should not be the same as they are for an individual... When a great wrong has been done by an individual, punishment is arguably useful and usually satisfying from other individuals perspective, but retribution for an organisation (esp government) it's not very useful to anyone.

      Also the legality of this ruling should not determine punishment or justification, it should determine change. If the ruling was "lawful", then clearly the laws involved are not compre

      • Consequences to a government agency are not and should not be the same as they are for an individual... When a great wrong has been done by an individual, punishment is arguably useful and usually satisfying from other individuals perspective, but retribution for an organisation (esp government) it's not very useful to anyone.

        It depends. Many of us have argued for an official corporate "death penalty", and the government here (US) actually does shut down businesses sometimes and courts often order the people who set up scam businesses to never engage in that sort of business again. Ultimately action needs to be taken against individuals, though.

        Also the legality of this ruling should not determine punishment or justification, it should determine change. If the ruling was "lawful", then clearly the laws involved are not comprehensive enough or are poorly defined.

        Whatever the ruling, it's clear that the GCHQ overreached. Inadequate oversight, bad policy and fallible laws could be the cause. The ruling and findings along the way can provide insight into how much of each is to blame.

        Which is why - in the case of governmental misconduct - *individuals* need to be held accountable, including hard time in prison. That way, next time a higher up at [spy agency] tells

        • by tomxor ( 2379126 )

          ...Ultimately action needs to be taken against individuals, though.

          I did not say that individuals involved should not be punished, i said that the consequences for a government agency (in it's entirety) should not be the same as they are for an individual, and this ruling is for the GCHQ's actions not "higher up at [spy agency] and his obedient minions"... I don't think individual punishment alone solves issues that span an entire organisation either.

          It would make sense that individual trials result from this ruling to determine individual liability.

  • If some Brit had been caught sneeking around and reading the GCHQ data or even reading some politician's or top policeman's traffic that guy would be in jail right now with little prospect of being out before a few decades had come to pass. Yet these douche nozzles won't even get so much as an ASBO. Justice is blind, nobody is above the law? Total and purified BS.
  • by WillAffleckUW ( 858324 ) on Friday February 06, 2015 @01:36PM (#48999147) Homepage Journal

    But we all knew that.

    However: will anyone DO anything about it?

    Does Scotland have to secede to get your attention?

The solution of problems is the most characteristic and peculiar sort of voluntary thinking. -- William James

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