A British Intelligence Agency Violated Rules While Spying on NGOs

News - (on June 23, 2015 02:46 AM)

GCHQ spying on NGOs

Spying Wasn’t Illegal - But Not Properly Followed by Rules

GCHQ ‘a British Intelligence Agency’ is accused of breaking rules and not following proper procedure to intercept the information of two international NGOs by Investigatory Powers Tribunal

According to Investigatory Powers Tribunal - which works to investigate complaints conducted by various public bodies - one of the British Intelligence Agency i.e. GCHQ did not follow proper rules and procedure while investigating two of the International NGOs namely Amnesty and Privacy International.

"The procedure laid down by GCHQ’s internal policies for selection of the communications for examination was in error not followed in this case."

The issue was broken out when these two NGOs, along with other like the American Civil Liberties Union etc. accused GCHQ on violating law by intercepting their communications.

IPT made analogy on the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) and South Africa-based The Legal Resources Centre cases. IPT explained that the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights’ communications was intercepted lawfully but the data stored for so longer time which was not suitable at all.


As for the case of South African NGO, according to IPT, GCHQ was failed to follow its internal policies, however, interception itself was lawful according to IPT.

The government is ready to “welcome the IPT's confirmation that any interception by GCHQ in these cases” is “undertaken lawfully and proportionatel” according to the government’s spokesman. He further added “that where breaches of policies occurred they were not sufficiently serious to warrant any compensation to be paid to the bodies involved."

He clarifies that GCHQ has taken the procedure very seriously and it is working to rectify the technical errors identified by this case and added that they’re “constantly reviews its processes to identify and make improvements."

As for the final verdict by Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT), GCHQ need not to pay any fine or compensation as British Intelligence Agency did not created any material damage or breach. However, GCHQ was required to confirm that it had deleted relevant documents of Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights within the 14 days.

”The Tribunal is satisfied that no use whatever was made by the intercepting agency [GCHQ] of any intercepted material, nor any record retained, and that the sixth claimant [The Legal Resources Centre in South Africa] has not suffered material detriment, damage or prejudice as a result of the breach.”

However, there are many critics unsatisfied with all this and similar cases. David Anderson, the independent review of terrorism legislation, has said that the lack of transparency is making GCHQ and a like "undemocratic."

Eric King, deputy director of Privacy International said "Make no mistake, these internal failures will not be limited to just these instances.” He further criticized that "Trying to pass off such failings as 'technical', or significant changes in law as mere 'clarifications', has become a tiring defense for those who know the jig is up."

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