European Court of Human Rights: Great Britain condemned for mass surveillance

Five years after Edward Snowden's revelations, the British government has been condemned for their reconnaissance activities. 16 victims had been sued.

European Court of Human Rights: Great Britain condemned for mass surveillance

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has condemned Britain's massive espionage of journalists and activists as a violation of fundamental right to freedom of expression and of press. The surveillance had unveiled former US intelligence agent Edward Snowden 2013. Among ors, a network of investigative journalists, civil rights organisation Big Bror Watch and non-governmental organisations were affected. 16 of m had filed an action in Strasbourg. The ruling does not threaten British government with a penalty. However, state must reimburse part of procedural costs, a total of 185,000 euros. There were no claims for compensation. The judgment may be challenged within three months.

The director of Big Bror Watch, Silkie Carlo, was satisfied with judge's verdict. "Under pretext of fighting terrorism, United Kingdom has introduced one of most authoritarian surveillance systems in western states," said Carlo. "This judgement is an important step in protecting millions of righteous citizens from unjustified interference in ir private lives."

In judgement of ECHR it is said that mass espionage of journalists and fundamental rights activists violate ir right to freedom of expression and protection of ir private lives, which are enshrined in European Convention on Human Rights. Surveillance by British intelligence Service is not subject to "appropriate and independent control". The criteria for selecting mails under investigation are not clearly defined. This is all more difficult for communications in question to reveal "a great many things about habits and contacts" of persons being monitored.

"Particularly concerned", Court of Justice has expressed its views on conditions under which "confidential information from journalists can be specifically selected for review". The surveillance authorities could gain access to sources of reporters. This possibility alone could have a "deterrent effect" on journalists and thus restrict freedom of press. In addition, British Surveillance Act allows a large number of authorities to apply to telecommunications companies to request access to ir customers ' communications – under poorly defined conditions, such as Strasbourg court Realized. This also applies to communications of journalists. This practice is in breach of an EU regulation whereby communications companies may only pass on such information for purpose of combating crime and only under control of a court or or independent body. As a member of European Union, Britain is obliged to comply with rules.

Edward Snowden had revealed in 2013 that British intelligence service GCHQ a large amount of information from cables that flow communications data between United Kingdom and United States. Some of findings were exchanged with US intelligence services. This was in court, but right. The rules for this were sufficiently clearly formulated. There are no signs of abuse, it is said in judgment. Since revelation, re has been a major change in law. The UK Home Office said that re were multi-level procedures introduced to limit surveillance. In addition, post of an independent representative was created to control compliance with rules. There is an international arrest warrant against whistleblower. He currently lives in Russia in asylum.

Updated Date: 14 September 2018, 12:00

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