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Privacy International launches legal challenge against PRISM snooping

Wants an immediate cease and desist order
Tue Jul 09 2013, 11:30

DIGITAL RIGHTS GROUP Privacy International has challenged the UK government on its use of PRISM and Tempora intelligence information and called for an immediate halt to surveillance.

Like Liberty before it, Privacy International has sued to take the UK government in front of a legal tribunal (PDF) to ascertain whether it has acted outside the law. In a statement it said that it has filed a claim in the Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT).

Eric King, head of research at Privacy International said, "One of the underlying tenets of law in a democratic society is the accessibility and foreseeability of a law.

"If there is no way for citizens to know of the existence, interpretation, or execution of a law, then the law is effectively secret. And secret law is not law. It is a fundamental breach of the social contract if the Government can operate with unrestrained power in such an arbitrary fashion."

"Mass, indiscriminate surveillance of this kind goes against the most basic fundamental human rights to privacy. The scope and scale of this program, which monitors the entire British public and much of the world, cannot be justified as necessary and proportionate."

The group's concerns mirror those of Liberty, which accused the government of "indulging in out-of-control snooping" when it filed its own claim last month.

"Those demanding the Snoopers' Charter seem to have been indulging in out-of-control snooping even without it - exploiting legal loopholes and help from Uncle Sam," said Liberty's legal director James Welch.

"No one suggests a completely unpoliced internet but those in power cannot swap targeted investigations for endless monitoring of the entire globe."

The solicitors working for Privacy International accused the UK government of breaching human rights, and the claim alleged its internet surveillance lacks accountability and proportionality. µ


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