A judicial tribunal has ruled the Government Communications Headquarters surveillance of two international human rights groups was illegal, another strike on the spying department’s murky record.
The tribunal is responsible for overseeing all complaints against intelligence services. Liberty & Privacy International, along with Amnesty International pushed the case to the court, claiming the GCHQ held surveillance on the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights and the South African non-profit Legal Resources Centre.
Even though the attempt to grab information was not deemed unlawful, GCHQ held onto the information for too long. This seems to happen a lot with the GCHQ, with the lack of audits inside the intelligence service allowing them to get away with negligence.
It is another knock on the GCHQ’s reputation, especially since this attack was on human rights groups the UK government is meant to protect. Having 24/7 surveillance on email accounts is a massive breach of privacy, showing the UK to be an aggressor in the online cyberspace.
Sadly, this isn’t the first time the GCHQ has used its hacking and surveillance prowess to attack allied country’s enterprise. Just a few months ago, news about Belgium’s telecommunications company Belgacom and Dutch SIM maker Gemalto came to light, showing the GCHQ has no limits when it comes to surveillance.
In Edward Snowden’s documents released to The Guardian and Glenn Greenwald’s The Intercept, it showed the GCHQ as the acting force that would implement new surveillance solutions on the UK public first, alongside attacking hundreds companies across the world.
Snowden has also commented on the UK’s massive surveillance issues—due to the lack of constitution protecting the public—in talks after releasing the surveillance documents from the NSA.
The report will be sent to the Prime Minister, who may make some changes to the way the GCHQ conduct its surveillance. However, if anything David Cameron's Tory Party has been supportive of more aggressive surveillance tactics both inside and outside of the UK, which should be a worry to anyone that values their privacy.