A Japanese Internet activist and academic is challenging a new state secrets law by setting up a website aimed at making it easier for government officials to leak sensitive information to the media without getting caught. The state-secrets law drafted by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's government went into effect last week after year-long protests against it. The law sets prison terms of up to 10 years for public servants or others leaking state secrets, while journalists and others who encourage such leaks could be imprisoned for five years.
La Quadrature du Net signs an open letter written by Health Action International Europe against the directive's project on trade secrets. Initiated by the business community, put forward by the Member States and the European Commission, it gives the possibility for private companies to sue any person that "unlawfully acquires, uses or discloses" the "trade secrets". Whistleblowers are poorly protected in this text, the directive creates a judiciary insecurity as it will dissuade from leaking from private companies.
An urgent campaign has been launched in the UK for a “freedom of expression” law to protect confidential journalists’, MPs’ and lawyers’ phone and communications records being secretly snooped on by police. Senior editors and lawyers condemned as “wholly inadequate” safeguards put forward in a code of practice by the home secretary, Theresa May, to meet concerns over the police use of surveillance powers linked to the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (Ripa). The campaign comes as the prime minister, David Cameron, called for an extension of the laws that give snooping powers to security services with a plan to ban encrypted messages in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo Paris attacks.
Australia’s Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA) has called for journalists to be exempt from government access to phone and web data, warning that the government’s data retention proposal risks making it impossible for a free press to function.
The plan to retain web and phone data will mean that a range of telecommunications and service providers will need to keep an as-yet-unspecified set of data.
The bill does not limit the range of offences that can be investigated, which means that phone and web metadata may be used to investigate confidential sources and whistleblowers who provide information to journalists without the approval of the government.
A UK court vindicated Edward Snowden’s whistleblowing on Friday by ruling that the secrecy surrounding one of the programs he exposed was, in fact, illegal. The decision is more evidence that not only were the Snowden revelations necessary and justified, but are also slowly forcing changes in both US and UK, even as both governments fiercely resist.
In a stunning ruling, the Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT) – which oversees (and usually rubber stamps) Britain’s spy agencies – declared that the intelligence-sharing rules between the NSA and GCHQ (Britain’s NSA equivalent and partner-in-crime) governing their mass surveillance program violated UK human rights laws because they were kept secret for so long.
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.