More than 500,000 communications data intercepts authorised in UK last year
Thu 12 Mar 2015, 13:20

More than half a million authorisations for police and intelligence officers to see communications data were issued last year, according to the commissioner who oversees interceptions by the security forces and local authorities.

The 517,236 authorisations and notices to look at communications data – but not the content – is not the highest figure ever recorded. The commissioner, Sir Anthony May, found that there was no “significant institutional overuse of communications data powers”.

The vast majority of the authorisiations, 88.9%, were granted by police forces and law enforcement agencies, 9.8% by the intelligence agencies and the remaining 1.3% by local authorities and other public authorities.

Handful of UK spies accessed private information inappropriately, report says
Thu 12 Mar 2015, 14:20

Spies have been dismissed and disciplined for inappropriately accessing private information on citizens in recent years, the intelligence and security committee (ISC) report on privacy has found.

The report reveals a small number of staff at the intelligence agencies misused their surveillance powers, but it is not specific about how the information was wrongly accessed.

“Deliberate abuse of access to GCHQ’s systems would constitute gross misconduct (depending on the circumstances) – to date there has only been one case where GCHQ have dismissed a member of staff for misusing access to GCHQ’s systems,”the report states.


UK spying report to be published
Thu 12 Mar 2015, 11:40

The legal framework surrounding surveillance is "unnecessarily complicated" and "lacks transparency", a Parliamentary committee says.

The Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) report also says there should be a single law to govern access to private communications by UK agencies.

Its inquiry has considered the impact of such activities on people's privacy.

GCHQ datasharing with the NSA deemed unlawful
Sat 7 Feb 2015, 17:20

Two years after Edward Snowden’s allegations concerning mass surveillance, the Investigatory Powers Tribunal, the UK intelligence agencies complaints tribunal, has ruled that the manner in which the UK’s GCHQ shared intelligence from the US National Security Agency was unlawful.

In a brief ruling that follows a lengthy and more complex one in December, the tribunal at the same time announced its view that previous legal defects have been corrected, and that it is now satisfied that GCHQ is acting lawfully. At least, that is what you might think the IPT has decided. But in the peculiar point at which the law, intelligence and secrecy mix, things are not always what they seem.

UK admits unlawfully monitoring legally privileged communications
Wed 18 Feb 2015, 20:54

The regime under which UK intelligence agencies, including MI5 and MI6, have been monitoring conversations between lawyers and their clients for the past five years is unlawful, the British government has admitted.

The admission that the activities of the security services have failed to comply fully with human rights laws in a second major area – this time highly sensitive legally privileged communications – is a severe embarrassment for the government.

It follows hard on the heels of the British court ruling on 6 February declaring that the regime surrounding the sharing of mass personal intelligence data between America’s national security agency and Britain’s GCHQ was unlawful for seven years.

EFF wins battle over secret legal opinions on government spying
Thu 29 Jan 2015, 23:20

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has won its four-year Freedom of Information Act lawsuit over secret legal interpretations of a controversial section of the Patriot Act, including legal analysis of law enforcement and intelligence agency access to census records.

The U.S. Department of Justice today filed a motion to dismiss its appeal of a ruling over legal opinions about Section 215 of the Patriot Act, the controversial provision of law relied on by the NSA to collect the call records of millions of Americans. As a result of the dismissal, the Justice Department will be forced to release a previously undisclosed opinion from the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) concerning access by law enforcement and intelligence agencies to census data under Section 215.