Tribunal will not automatically listen to unlawful spying claims

The 650 Investigatory Powers Tribunal claimants will need to provide further evidence they were wrongfully spied on


The Investigatory Powers Tribunal has ruled that the 650 people who said they were wrongfully spied upon by British and American authorities will have to provide further evidence of surveillance before the government will listen to their claims.

If the claimants provide the evidence, the Tribunal will then decide whether the cases will be fully investigated or not. The Tribunal stressed that they will not automatically be looked into.

The complaints came forward after Privacy International campaigned for people who thought they had been unlawfully watched to state their concerns about GCHQ digging into their digital life without their permission last year.

Around 650 people responded and said they wanted the government to investigate into what information had been mined and why they had been selected for investigation.

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"Given that these claims arise in the context of the bulk surveillance activities of the UK and US Governments, the Tribunal's requirement that claimants submit further information on why they think they would be spied on before deciding whether to fully investigate their claims is unacceptable," Scarlet Kim, legal officer at Privacy International said.

The Investigatory Powers Tribunal also stated that non-UK residents could not make a claim against the UK government for violating the European Convention on Human Rights, but Privacy International believes this is wrong and goes against the Convention, because the law states that anyone is protected, regardless of where they are located.

"The Tribunal's refusal to recognise the human rights claims of non-UK residents is ill-founded," Kim added. "When a member state to the European Convention on Human Rights commits a human rights violation on its own territory - whether by unlawfully suppressing free speech rights, expropriating property, or conducting surveillance - the victims are entitled to judicial relief no matter where they live."

"An essential feature of any true democratic society is that covert breaches of the law are disclosed to the victims. The Tribunal's decision is yet another example of the lack of genuine and rigorous public scrutiny of the British intelligence services," she concluded.

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