PRESS ORGANISATION the UK Bureau of Investigative Journalism (BIJ) is demanding answers and information from UK spy agency GCHQ about its communications surveillance practices.
The BiJ has filed a case with the European Court of Human Rights, in which it asks for more information about the GCHQ and whether it is using its surveillance tools to monitor journalists. It said that this is a human rights issue, hence where it has filed the case.
"We understand why the government feels the need to have the power of interception," said the bureau's Christopher Hird. "But our concern is that the existing regulatory regime to control the interception of communications data - such as phone calls and emails - by organisations such as GCHQ does not provide sufficient safeguards to ensure the protection of journalists' sources, and as a result is a restriction on the operation of a free press."
The BIJ said that it has seen evidence of such operations but only in documents released as part of Edward Snowden's NSA document leaks. It added that these claim that journalists, who rely on private sources, could be exposed by the practice.
"In the midst of the vast quantities of data being indiscriminately collected and analysed are large quantities of journalistic information. After all, journalism is a huge digital information industry in the UK," said case lead Gavin Miller QC.
"The days when journalists met their confidential sources in the snug bar and jotted down handwritten notes, or pocketed photocopied documents, are long gone. The tools of the trade are now computers and mobile devices... No one knows anything about what GCHQ does with the journalistic information it pulls in. This is because, startlingly, neither the legislation nor government guidance about its use says anything at all about this."
We have asked GCHQ to comment or respond regarding the case. µ
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