London, December 5, 2014: The Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT) today followed its previous judgments in finding that UK security services’ may in principle carry out mass surveillance of all fibre optic cables entering or leaving the UK under RIPA, the 2000 law that pre-dates the modern internet:
In summary, the Tribunal in today's decision said the system of mass surveillance disclosed by Edward Snowden could in principle be lawful. But the Tribunal has asked for more submissions about whether receiving bulk intercepted material from foreign intelligence agencies (such as the NSA) has been lawful until now. This is because until the recent hearings, the rules and procedures governing intelligence sharing have been kept totally secret. The European Convention on Human Rights usually requires that the rules and procedures be public.
Eric King, Deputy Director at Privacy International said:
With GCHQ's mass surveillance of undersea cables reported to have increased by as much as 7000% in the last five years, today's decision by the IPT that this is business as usual is a worrying sign for us all. The idea that previously secret documents, signposting other still secret documents can justify this scale of intrusion is just not good enough, and not what society should accept from a democracy based on the rule of law."
Shahzad Ahmad, Country Director of Bytes for All, Pakistan, said:
As lawyers and activists working in Pakistan, Bytes For All is accustomed to confronting unrestrained State surveillance, but we did not expect that a British court would ever rubber stamp blanket surveillance powers like those contained in RIPA. This decision confirms that not only can the UK intercept communications in and out of the UK on a mass scale, but it can provide those private communications to foreign governments – including Pakistan – with few restrictions. The idea that the UK is not obliged to offer any privacy protections or safeguards to individuals outside of Britain when conducting surveillance is absurd, and puts at risk the privacy and free expression of human rights activists around the world.”
About Bytes for All, Pakistan
Bytes for All (B4A), Pakistan is a human rights organization and a network of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) professionals and practitioners. It experiments and organizes debate on the relevance of ICTs for sustainable development and strengthening social justice movements in the country. Its mission is “ICTs for development, democracy and social justice”. www.bytesforall.pk
For more information:
Bytes for All, Pakistan
Tel. +92 51 2110494-9