Mass Surveillance, Secrecy and “Intelligence Sharing”: Prism and Upstream. The Illegality of UK-US “Bulk Collection”

Saturday, February 7, 2015
By Paul Martin

By Binoy Kampmark
Global Research
February 07, 2015

“The world owes Edward Snowden a great debt for blowing the whistle, and today’s decision is a vindication of his actions.” – Eric King, deputy director of Privacy International, Feb 6, 2014

It is a relationship seemingly beyond question – the sharing of intercepted data between the United Kingdom and the United States has been a norm etched in stone. Not that such bodies as the otherwise clandestine Investigatory Powers Tribunal would agree – at least entirely. The IPT found on Friday that regulations covering access by GCHQ of phone records and emails intercepted by its US counterpart, the National Security Agency, actually breached human rights.

For the first time since its establishment in 2000, the IPT has done something few human rights advocacy groups thought possible: go against the establishment, even if that resistance was, in the end, minor in effect. The wisdom of establishing such review bodies tends to involve more window dressing than substantive change, and for the most part, the IPT has not disappointed its masters. Its role is to justify, within law, what would otherwise be deemed unjustifiable.

When it came to various intelligence practices, the tribunal did not take issue with the legality of collection programs such as Prism and Upstream. These, they Tribunal has stated, were known. (That such knowledge was only occasioned by the Edward Snowden leaks is never once mentioned.)

In its December 5, 2014 order, the IPT declared (para 156) that, “Save in one possible (and to date hypothetical) respect… the current regime, both in relation to Prism and Upstream and to s. 8(4) [of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000], when conducted in accordance with the requirements which we have considered, is lawful and human rights compliant.”

The Rest…HERE

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