Wednesday, February 12, 2014: Bytes for All, Pakistan through specialized legal services from Bhatt Murphy Solicitors in UK have filed a complaint against the Government of United Kingdom for its invasive surveillance practices that may have been infringing upon the privacy rights of people living outside of UK. The grounds for this complaint are based on likely violations of privacy of B4A’s communications, as well as those of the country’s citizens that the organization represents. The complaint is filed against i) The Secretary of State for Foreign Commonwealth Affairs, ii) The Secretary of State for the Home Department, iii) The Secret Intelligence Service, iv) The Security Service, v) The Government Communications Headquarters, and vi) The Attorney General.
According to the statement of grounds, UK’s mass surveillance activities including Tempora and any other similar programmes violate Article 8 and Articles 10 of the ECHR, and that Tempora’s legality is not only questionable, but it also does not have a clear framework defining UK’s policy for governing the interception, storage and use of large amounts of data.
B4A decided to file a complaint to IPT after collecting significant amount of evidence by field-testing on how data flows between Pakistani users and destination IPs, with irregular patterns showing abnormal rerouting of data through UK with and without VPN connections.
Privacy International Legal Office Caroline Wilson Palow said, “It is clear that mass surveillance programs like Tempora have a disproportionate impact on those who live outside the country, since foreigners’ phone calls, emails, or internet searches currently receive even fewer legal protections than the communications of those who reside in the UK. It is wrong and we argue illegal for the UK to discriminate without any reasonable basis between UK and non-UK nationals when spying on their communications.”
According to Shahzad Ahmad, Country Director, B4A Pakistan, “Illicit violation of privacy of the people of any country, whether by any government or corporation is akin to challenging the freedom and sovereignty of that country and compromising fundamental rights. As a human rights organization, it is our duty to strive to protect the people from predators of privacy rights, and for that we are willing to approach all possible channels that local and global human rights mechanisms have to offer.”
We are committed to continue to contribute towards protecting citizens’ rights to free expression, privacy and opinion in the digital age. We hope that this complaint and resulting decision will help improve transparency, accountability and open governance processes within the governments, corporations and other global bodies.
The hearing of this complaint is set for 14th February 2014.
Read more about this complaint at Privacy International website.
The grounds of this complaint are accessible here.