Menu
UK spies sued over phone data collection scheme already banned in US

UK spies sued over phone data collection scheme already banned in US

UK intelligence agencies still collect phone data in bulk, while that practice was banned in the US, Privacy International said

The foyer of the UK's GCHQ intelligence agency in Cheltenham, UK

The foyer of the UK's GCHQ intelligence agency in Cheltenham, UK

In an effort to put an end to the bulk data collection of phone records and other large datasets from millions of people, campaign group Privacy International has filed a complaint with a U.K. court.

The complaint was filed with the U.K. Investigatory Powers Tribunal, which deals with claims against U.K. intelligence agencies, including the country's Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ). It is meant to put an end to bulk data collection that was already banned in the U.S.

Last Tuesday, the U.S. Senate passed the USA Freedom Actwhich put a stop to the old U.S. National Security Agency's (NSA) bulk collection of domestic telephone records, restoring a limited telephone records program.

The U.S. is so much further ahead on the issue than the U.K., the campaign group said, adding that the bulk collection of data of millions of people who have no ties to terrorism and are not suspected of any crime is plainly wrong.

In the U.K., intelligence agencies also collect bulk personal datasets, a report by the U.K. Parliament's Intelligence and Security Committee showed in March. The Committee considered the bulk collection of data to be relevant to national security investigations.

According to GCHQ, bulk data collection is an increasingly important tool to identify people they have an interest in, the partly redacted report said. The datasets vary in size "from hundreds to millions of records", and where possible, they may be linked together so that analysts can quickly find all the information linked to a "selector" such as a phone number, it said.

While this kind of investigation is described as "highly intrusive", the report does not reveal which datasets have been collected, Privacy International noted, adding that there is no proper legal regime in place to restrict the bulk collection of data. Moreover, the collection of bulk data is not authorized by a judge or minister, the group said, and called for strong safeguards to prevent misuse of the collected data.

Telecommunications companies are required to store records detailing the who, where and when of every phone call made under the country's Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act (DRIPA). Privacy International believes GCHQ then collects those phone records in bulk. Similar powers could be used to collect data from other databases such as medical records, financial records and travel records in bulk, the group said.

The legality of DRIPA is also being challenged by two members of the British Parliament and U.K. human rights organization Liberty. Their case was heard by the London High Court last week.

Privacy International's complaint comes on top of earlier complaints filed together with other groups against GCHQ mass surveillance practices in the U.K. The groups are waiting for a final judgement in those cases.

Two complaints were also filed against GCHQ over hacking powers, while there is also a legal challenge against mass surveillance pending at the European Court of Human Rights.

Loek is Amsterdam Correspondent and covers online privacy, intellectual property, online payment issues as well as EU technology policy and regulation for the IDG News Service. Follow him on Twitter at @loekessers or email tips and comments to loek_essers@idg.com

Follow Us

Join the New Zealand Reseller News newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Privacy InternationalsecurityU.S. National Security AgencyCivil lawsuitslegalU.K. Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ)data protectionprivacy

Featured

Slideshows

Educating from the epicentre - Why distributors are the pulse checkers of the channel

Educating from the epicentre - Why distributors are the pulse checkers of the channel

​As the channel changes and industry voices deepen, the need for clarity and insight heightens. Market misconceptions talk of an “under pressure” distribution space, with competitors in that fateful “race for relevance” across New Zealand. Amidst the cliched assumptions however, distribution is once again showing its strength, as a force to be listened to, rather than questioned. Traditionally, the role was born out of a need for vendors and resellers to find one another, acting as a bridge between the testing lab and the marketplace. Yet despite new technologies and business approaches shaking the channel to its very core, distributors remain tied to the epicentre - providing the voice of reason amidst a seismic industry shift. In looking across both sides of the vendor and partner fences, the middle concept of the three-tier chain remains centrally placed to understand the metrics of two differing worlds, as the continual pulse checkers of the local channel. This exclusive Reseller News Roundtable, in association with Dicker Data and rhipe, examined the pivotal role of distribution in understanding the health of the channel, educating from the epicentre as the market transforms at a rapid rate.

Educating from the epicentre - Why distributors are the pulse checkers of the channel
Kiwi channel reunites as After Hours kicks off 2017

Kiwi channel reunites as After Hours kicks off 2017

After Hours made a welcome return to the channel social calendar last night, with a bumper crowd of distributors, vendors and resellers descending on The Jefferson in Auckland to kickstart 2017. Photos by Maria Stefina.

Kiwi channel reunites as After Hours kicks off 2017
Arrow exclusively introduces Tenable Network Security to A/NZ channel

Arrow exclusively introduces Tenable Network Security to A/NZ channel

Arrow Electronics introduced Tenable Network Security to local resellers in Sydney last week, officially launching the distributor's latest security partnership across Australia and New Zealand. Representing the first direct distribution agreement locally for Tenable specifically, the deal sees Arrow deliver security solutions directly to mid-market and enterprise channel partners on both sides of the Tasman.

Arrow exclusively introduces Tenable Network Security to A/NZ channel
Show Comments