back to article Top Euro court: UK's former snooping regime breached human rights

The UK government breached human rights rules by failing to ensure proper oversight of its mass surveillance programmes, according to the European Court of Human Rights. In a judgment handed down today, the court said the safeguards within the government's system for bulk interception of communication were not robust enough to …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So how long until this?

    https://www.brookings.edu/blog/techtank/2018/06/18/chinas-social-credit-system-spreads-to-more-daily-transactions/

    "Under the guise of counter-terrorism, the UK has adopted the most authoritarian surveillance regime of any Western state, corroding democracy itself and the rights of the British public," said Big Brother Watch."

    1. WatAWorld

      Re: So how long until this?

      Chekism: where the secret political police strongly control all spheres of society.

      If you look at the USA and Russia. If you look at all the ex CIA, KGB and FSB officers working for hedge funds, or in Russia being oligarchs, you can see that those countries already have Chekist regimes.

      Why do retired senior US intelligence officials get to keep their top secret security clearances? Why are they entitled to on-going briefing on top secret matters when they're no longer working for the government? It is so they can run business, advice hedge funds, control retirement funds, and control private industry.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chekism

      1. Mike Moyle

        Re: So how long until this?

        "Why do retired senior US intelligence officials get to keep their top secret security clearances? Why are they entitled to on-going briefing on top secret matters when they're no longer working for the government?"

        There have been cases of former intelligence officers being called in to consult in "This is what we THINK is happening, but you've dealt with this guy face-to-face -- what do YOU think is going on?" cases. For that, they need clearances to get to look at the raw data. I don't necessarily think a clearance should be revoked at the instant that someone leaves a TLA, but I can see a case to be made for a sunset clause: after n-number of years, that sort of interpersonal data becomes too stale to be useful and clearances should be allowed to lapse.

        1. Julz Silver badge

          Re: So how long until this?

          In my experience specific clearances are linked to your role and most certainly get revoked once you leave that role. Generic clearance levels (currently SC, DV etc in the UK) don't and can be transferred between roles but these don't function as an 'all areas access', just a sort of indication that this chap is ok and you don't have to be too careful around them. They are also time limited.

  2. WatAWorld

    Yeah, as expected. And they knew what they were doing when they broke the law.

    Yeah, as expected. And they knew what they were doing when they broke the law.

    But they're the government so they won't face prosecution.

    The laws we pay them to write and enforce aren't good enough for our civil servants to obey. The laws they write and enforce only apply to us.

    1. Warm Braw Silver badge

      Re: Yeah, as expected. And they knew what they were doing when they broke the law.

      they knew what they were doing when they broke the law

      That's why they keep changing it, it's much harder to bring down a moving target.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Yeah, as expected. And they knew what they were doing when they broke the law.

      "In any truly advanced society, civil servant is equivalent to civil master." R.A.H. (perhaps just paraphrased)

  3. jmch Silver badge
    Big Brother

    Stopped??

    "the case considered procedures governing bulk cable-tapping that are no longer in force"

    Well, the authorities SAY the bulk-tapping is no longer happening, but we have no way of knowing that

    1. Chozo
      Devil

      Re: Stopped??

      For the security conscious whether they be simply paranoid or engaged in nefarious activity one must assume everybody... from the government down to your next door neighbor is keeping tabs on you. Here at work we have an email alert setup that tells us when the MAC code of certain phones appear on the wifi network. Postman, Sandwich van driver, Boss etc.

    2. LucreLout Silver badge

      Re: Stopped??

      Well, the authorities SAY the bulk-tapping is no longer happening, but we have no way of knowing that

      I just assumed that GCHQ keep tabs on the Yanks, and that the NSA keep tabs on the Brits, and they swap relevant info.

      Note that I'm not suggesting they should or shouldn't, only I'd be very suprised if there's not some sort of arrangement in place that sidesteps domestic lawmakers. After all, you never know who the plebs will vote for next.

  4. Rob D.
    Meh

    Indifferent judgement

    So the risk of privacy abuses exists (to the extent that privacy is considered in a legal context) because the information use isn't appropriately guarded but the practice in place is not otherwise considered unlawful. Fix the oversight and the practice meets the legislation (if not the cultural niceties).

    Or at least the practice that was in place would meet the legislation, because now current practice is covered under a different regime.

    Agree with some of the complaint, dismiss other bits, split decisions anyway, have some costs, no enforcement. As the icon says, "Meh!"

  5. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge
    Big Brother

    Big Brother calls it a day, packs his bag, goes home

    "Campaigners have hailed it as a further nail in the coffin of state surveillance"

    In their dreams.

  6. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge
    Pint

    Well done everyone involved...

    To everyone involved in bringing this case... if you happen to read this - you have my thanks for keeping the pressure up on this. You do all of us that value our rights and liberties a great service.

    Have a beer for your troubles. Even if that seems a little light as a reward.

    1. Will Godfrey Silver badge
      Unhappy

      Re: Well done everyone involved...

      While I appreciate the effort people are going to exposing all of this, I don't think the situation will improve until someone hits the 'civilization reset' button ... again.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Meddlesome

    After Brexit we won't have to listen to these bothersome un-elected European judges.

    British courts will reign supreme when we leave the EU. [sic]

    (Apart from those Enemies of the People.® ™)

    Sovereignty!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Meddlesome

      While your post is clearly satire I still feel the need to point out ECHR is not an EU court and even after Brexit we are still subject to its judgements. The government will of continue to pay as much attention to it as it does now.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Meddlesome

        Hence the [sic].

  8. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Unhappy

    It's a *very* small step toward improving this situation.

    But only just.

    The data fetishists are still there.

    And still active.

  9. doublelayer Silver badge

    Nail in the coffin

    So this is another nail in the coffin of state surveillance, huh?

    Hey! You've got to take those nails back out! You forgot to put state surveillance in the coffin before you started nailing it up! Next time we need something buried, we're going with a different group of coffin makers.

  10. Hans 1
    Facepalm

    However, the court said the sharing of information with foreign government was not in breach of the rules.

    WTF ? Not ok to collect data because appropriate handling processes were lacking. Sounds fair enough!

    Share data with third parties that have even worse procedures for handling the data ? That is ok?????

    What are they smoking I need some for the mother-in-law!

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