Several human rights groups are celebrating a major victory against the Five Eyes, an intelligence alliance comprising Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK and the US, as the UK surveillance tribunal ruled on 6 February that the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) acted unlawfully in accessing millions of private communications collected by the National Security Agency (NSA) up until December 2014.
The decision marks the first time that the Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT), the only UK court empowered to oversee GCHQ, the domestic security agency MI5 and the foreign intelligence service MI6, has ever ruled against the intelligence and security services in its fifteen-year history. The case was only possible thanks to the NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden whose leaked documents provided the facts needed to challenge the long-standing intelligence sharing relationship.
Since its launch on 16 February 2015, over 25 000 people have joined an international campaign to try to learn whether Britain’s intelligence agency, GCHQ, illegally spied on them.
This opportunity is possible thanks to court victory in the Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT), a secret court set up to hear complaints against the British Security Services. As previously reported in the EDRi-gram, Privacy International won the first-ever case against GCHQ in the Tribunal, which ruled that the agency acted unlawfully in accessing millions of private communications collected by the US National Security Agency (NSA), up until December 2014.
Because of this victory, now anyone in the world can try to ask if their records, as collected by the NSA, were part of those communications unlawfully shared with GCHQ. We feel the public has a right to know if they were spied on illegally, and Privacy International wants to help make that as easy as possible.