The UK government will have to defend its mass surveillance program before the European Court of Human Rights, the media have reported Friday.
Human rights and civil liberties organisations Amnesty International, Liberty and Privacy International have filed a joint application with the court.
The groups argue that the UK government's practices of intercepting communications and sharing the intelligence with the US is in violation of fundamental human rights to privacy, freedom of expression and non-discrimination guaranteed under the European Convention on Human Rights.
The lawsuit is filed in response to a December ruling of the U.K.’s Investigatory Powers Tribunal which found that mass surveillance of Internet traffic by tapping fiber optic cables going in and out of the U.K. and intelligence sharing between the U.S. and the U.K. was lawful in principle and did not violate human rights.
In a follow-up ruling in February 2015, the tribunal ruled that the sharing of mass surveillance data between U.S. and U.K. intelligence services was unlawful before December 2014, as the policies governing these processes were secret.
The groups filing the lawsuit find all of this ridiculous, as mass spying has major consequences for people’s privacy and freedom of expression, and that the government should not be allowed to rely on secret policies.
The government's mass surveillance program was uncovered when a former NSA operative Edward Snowden leaked a number of documents showing the program.
The group reached the European Court of Human Rights after exhausting all domestic legal options for the case.