By: Harriet Agerholm of The Independent
The UK government’s mass surveillance programme violated human rights and had “no real safeguards”, the European Court of Human Rights (EHCR) has said in a landmark ruling.
The Strasbourg court said British intelligence agencies’ interception regime violated the right to a private and family life, since there was “insufficient oversight” over which communications were chosen for examination.
Not enough protection was given to journalistic sources by the government’s mass information collection programme, violating the right to freedom of expression, it also said.
But the court ruled that sharing the information with foreign governments did not violate either the right to a private and family life, or to free speech.
The case, brought by a group of charities including human rights groups Big Brother Watch and Amnesty International, centred on complaints about powers given to security services under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (Ripa).
It is the first major challenge to the legality of the UK’s bulk collection of communications and follows revelations that both the US and British governments were gathering communications on a “population-level”.