European Court of Human Rights NSA PRISM
Top Person Rights Court Rules UK Mass Surveillance Program Violated Personal Privacy Rights
This week, the grand chamber of the European Court of Human being Rights issued a final judgement in Big Bro Watch v. UK confirming that the UK’s intelligence company broke the right to privacy by systematically obstructing online communications without first applying needed safeguards. The agency’s mass monitoring program was “not in accordance with [EU] law,” which only permits federal governments to maintain data in an effort to fight “severe criminal activity” and requires a court or administrative body to sign off on data collection. The UK law at issue was not limited to serious criminal offense, nor did it need independent permission; these “essential shortages” impermissibly increased the “risk of the bulk interception power being abused.” Nevertheless, the grand chamber found that the firm’s decision to run a bulk interception program did not itself violate human rights, and the agency’s sharing of delicate digital intelligence with foreign equivalents– including with the NSA– was legal. Several chamber judges thought this judgment did not go far enough to condemn the sharing of wrongfully collected interactions with other nations, noting the chamber “missed an outstanding opportunity to fully promote the importance of personal life … when faced with disturbance in the type of mass monitoring.” IMPRESSIVE has a strong interest in protecting the human right to privacy and has continually opposed suspicionless mass collection of personal communications by domestic and foreign federal governments. IMPRESSIVE participated in this case as a third-party intervenor and filed a short describing U.S. intelligence authorities that enable the NSA to access the personal communications of non-U.S. individuals in infraction of their rights. EPIC was likewise chosen by the Irish High Court to make amicus submissions in a case including the international transfer of data from European servers to the U.S. in violation of E.U. law.