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The Courts EU Privacy

European Human Rights Court Rules Mass Surveillance Illegal (theregister.co.uk) 74

Kekke sends this report from El Reg: The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has ruled that mass surveillance is illegal, in a little-noticed case in Hungary. In a judgment last week, the court ruled that the Hungarian government had violated article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (the right to privacy) due to its failure to include "sufficiently precise, effective and comprehensive" measures that would limit surveillance to only people it suspected of crimes. Under a section of the 2011 National Security Act, a minister of the government is able to approve a police request to search people's houses, mail, phones and laptops if they are seeking to protect national security. ... The court said the Hungarian government should be required to interpret the law in a narrow fashion and "verify whether sufficient reasons for intercepting a specific individual's communications exist in each case." Or in other words, every individual case must be looked at carefully and a decision made on each. Which is clearly impossible if the law is taken to carry out mass surveillance, i.e., hoovering up information over the internet and then searching in it."
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European Human Rights Court Rules Mass Surveillance Illegal

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  • Look inside everyone's mail. If there's anything suspicious, there's your probable cause. If there's nothing suspicious, no harm done -- but best to keep the info in case it contained a coded message. This message brought to you by the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave.

    • by AHuxley ( 892839 )
      Look for tourists or academics found with or buying 2 copies of any book, they could be setting up a one time pad network.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      "If there's anything suspicious, there's your probable cause. If there's nothing suspicious, no harm done"

      And if there's nothing suspicious, but there is something useful? Like political information? Like passwords? Commercial secrets? Blackmail leverage?
      No harm done?

      East Europe is getting undermined by old pro-Russian political factions, in Poland for example, the ruling party has appointed 2 judges and changed the laws so that the court is effectively nullified without the vote of these 2 judges. It's als

      • Poland pro-Russian? Don't be ridiculous. The head of their Piss party would exterminate all Russians if he could, and wants the Polish empire to stretch from the Baltic sea to the Black sea, just like in good old times.

      • East Europe is getting undermined by old pro-Russian political factions, in Poland for example, the ruling party has appointed 2 judges and changed the laws so that the court is effectively nullified without the vote of these 2 judges. It's also changed the appointment of TV executives on the state channel to be chosen by them. I'm sure they'd love to have control of surveillance too, the soviet parties miss the STASI level of control they had.

        So you're saying PiS is pro-Russian?

        • by tnnn ( 1035022 )
          PiS admires the Russian form of a 'strong government'. While it doesn't try to implement a carbon copy of it, PiS borrows some 'bright' ideas from both the Russian and Hungarian systems (nationalism, 'strong leader' with much power, mythical 'they' who are always to blame for the failures, etc.). Recent changes in wire-tapping law, seem to be similar to the ones mentioned in the article.

          While at the moment PiS is not pro-Russian, changing political situation might push it in that direction (Hungary alread
          • PiS admires the Russian form of a 'strong government'. While it doesn't try to implement a carbon copy of it, PiS borrows some 'bright' ideas from both the Russian and Hungarian systems (nationalism, 'strong leader' with much power, mythical 'they' who are always to blame for the failures, etc.).

            Ideas that were also present, at one point, in a certain country to the west of Poland that eventually went to war with the Soviet Union (after signing a deal with the Soviet Union to carve up Poland), so it's not as if this behavior is obviously "soviet" or "pro-Russian".

            Although Anonymous Howard up there might be using "soviet" and "Stasi" just to mean "authoritarian", not to mean anything necessarily having to do with Soviet-style Communism, as per

            Was there anything suspicious in the billions of UK comm

            • by tnnn ( 1035022 )

              Ideas that were also present, at one point, in a certain country to the west of Poland that eventually went to war with the Soviet Union (after signing a deal with the Soviet Union to carve up Poland), so it's not as if this behavior is obviously "soviet" or "pro-Russian".

              Both the nazi germany and soviet union shared many authoritarian ideas. Still, I believe that's irrelevant to the original subject.

              I fully agree that the ideas I mentioned earlier, don't make PiS 'pro-Russian' per se. However, because it is widely said that PiS looks up to the Hungarian and Russian governments for inspiration, some people assume that PiS is pro-Russian. It is not. It just reuses the ideas.

              Because those ideas stand against EU ideals, Poland might get alienated and drift in the general

  • by AHuxley ( 892839 ) on Wednesday January 20, 2016 @01:31AM (#51334171) Homepage Journal
    Much of the EU has its own deep dark history with German Nazi occupied Europe https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org], Soviet occupation, decades of NSA, CIA and GCHQ operations.
    Mass surveillance was used on a lot of the different nations and individuals for different party, political or trade reasons.
    Legal teams can draw on the past generational experiences under fascist, communist and now EU/US/NATO rule and tell the press about what they found.
    Recall the vaults filled with audio tape opened in the 1990's. The vast amounts of files the East Germans collected and then tried to destroy. The German legal views on opening East German files re East or West German collected content. Now the NSA whistleblowers.
    Looks like the EU just found out about the wisdom of the US 4th amendment to be secure in their persons, houses, papers vs big government or a politico-economic union tyranny.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Yeah, like you guys were definitely the first to think of that...sheesh!

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Kkloe ( 2751395 )
      you mean the 4th amendment that the us widely ignore and have mass surveillance of their own citizens?
    • by sociocapitalist ( 2471722 ) on Wednesday January 20, 2016 @08:37AM (#51335055)

      Looks like the EU just found out about the wisdom of the US 4th amendment to be secure in their persons, houses, papers vs big government or a politico-economic union tyranny.

      "Like many other areas of American law, the Fourth Amendment finds its roots in English legal doctrine. Sir Edward Coke, in Semayne's case (1604), famously stated: "The house of every one is to him as his castle and fortress, as well for his defence against injury and violence as for his repose."[3] Semayne's Case acknowledged that the King did not have unbridled authority to intrude on his subjects' dwellings but recognized that government agents were permitted to conduct searches and seizures under certain conditions when their purpose was lawful and a warrant had been obtained."
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

      More like the US hasn't quite learned the lesson, or has begun to forget it.

  • ...will they ever root out terrorists before terrorists strike? Such a law will lead to another Charlie Hibdo attack!!

  • Except of course for all those cameras surveilling every public inch of major cities, because that's "public space" and you still have the option to self-impose house arrest to avoid it.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Don't confuse London with the EU.

    • When will this meme ever die?

      Firstly, the vast majority of cameras are privately owned, looking at back doors, stock rooms, car parks... Police etc have to request copies of videos (with a warrant if the owner doesn't want to hand over and/or their insurance company doesn't insist as part of the settlement following an incident)
      This must be good for the Slashdot crowd because private==good and government==bad and the cameras wouldn't be there if it weren't for market forces (i.e. lower insurance premiums)

      Se

      • by Mashiki ( 184564 )

        When will this meme ever die?

        No, considering you have idiots in charge of your government and police. Especially very special kinds of idiots like the Metro Police Chief saying who believes that CCTV is the solution [slashdot.org] to crime problems. Instead of having more police officers out there, and doing random patrols.

        • Absolutely agree that we have idiots in charge.

          How that happens with a broken, first past the post gerrymandered constituency boundaries "democracy" is another debate entirely.

          Also agree with the point about police attitudes.

          Cameras are the latest in the "ooh look, new technology, that'll save some costs!" approach - not only in policing but also endemic in most organisations [public and private].

          What I was trying to say was that cameras are not as prevalent - and even less useful - as some people (esp. in

      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

        About a decade ago I installed a CCTV system for a local shop. It was a local supermarket, called a convenience store in some places. Anyway, as part of getting a licence to sell alcohol the police required the owner to put CCTV on the outside, watching the street from four different angles. They made it clear that if they asked for the footage it was to be handed over without question or compensation. The guy had a number of other similar shops and stood to have licences revoked for all of them if he didn'

    • by Anonymous Coward

      just another Merkin jealous because it is another area that the Us is not USA #1 in. They are also afraid because Britain has better SCORPION STARE coverage than the US and why Cthulhu prefer to snack on skinny foreigners than merkin Ham planets.

  • Unimportant. (Score:5, Informative)

    by SuricouRaven ( 1897204 ) on Wednesday January 20, 2016 @03:33AM (#51334393)

    The ECHR ruled over a decade ago that even prisoners have a right to vote. The UK replied 'we'll get right on it' and promptly did nothing at all. We've been in violation of their ruling for all that time, and there's nothing they can do. Our prime minister even openly brags that we are ignoring the ruling*. This will be no different. The ECHR doesn't actually have an effective enforcement mechanism, should a member state choose to ignore them.

    *http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-20053244

    • Re:Unimportant. (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Required Snark ( 1702878 ) on Wednesday January 20, 2016 @04:25AM (#51334501)
      You're assuming that the EU will treat the UK and Hungary the same.

      Just reading that sentence makes it obvious that other political considerations will decide how the power structure in the EU will behave. UK quasi-fascist government activities will not get the same response as Hungarian quasi-fascist activity. The Brits are going after Muslims, which are now fair game in the EU. The Hungarians are going after Jews and Gypsies, which is too much like real fascism in the 30's. The cynical position is that the EU want's to pretend that the "bad old days" are truly over, but are OK with less obvious current repression.

    • by Cloud K ( 125581 )

      Indeed, sometimes that's a good thing (like the stupid cookie law where the ICO backed off and effectively said "you know what, we find it hard work too. Do what you want.") sometimes bad.

      I seem to recall Cameron is itching to remove us from the ECHR at the earliest possible opportunity anyway, the only thing standing in his way is the small issue of peace with Northern Ireland (Good Friday Agreement). Somewhat ironic as he's using terrorism as an excuse but I remember the 80s/90s and they seemed a lot be

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

      by locofungus ( 179280 ) on Wednesday January 20, 2016 @07:25AM (#51334867)

      The ECHR ruled over a decade ago that even prisoners have a right to vote.

      No they didn't!

      What they ruled is that you cannot have a blanket ban on prisoners being unable to vote.

      I think this makes sense. A prisoner who is in prison for one day which just happens to be election day loses any say over their government for the next 1800 days. A prisoner going to prison one day earlier for one day would have all the rights to vote of someone who didn't go to prison.

      The EHCR doesn't say which prisoners must be given the vote, just that it cannot be a blanket ban. IANAL but I think a case-by-case analysis that just happened to give no prisoners the vote would be legal.

      It's similar to the rulings that you cannot have a life sentence without hope of parole. And for the handful of notorious prisoners which this applies to, each home secretary says "never be released on my watch" which is fine according to the ECHR, just that a government cannot (try to) bind future home secretaries to the same.

      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

        It would open up any decision to legal challenge, which with the current 5 year fix term parliament would probably mean that any term of less than 5 years would not be able to stop prisoners voting. The government might argue it down a bit, but that would be the likely outcome.

    • The ECHR doesn't actually have an effective enforcement mechanism, should a member state choose to ignore them.

      Which is a wonderful arrangement for those in power - the subjects of those rules can point to the ECHR and believe there's some hope that their "rights" aren't fantasies. Otherwise they might start to say uncomfortable things.

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