GCHQ Broke Rules on Surveillance of Rights Groups

By Gary Cutlack on at

Our GCHQ spying/security people broke the rules on retaining data resulting from their surveillance activities, with the Investigatory Powers Tribunal finding two cases where intercepted data was kept for too long by our world watchers.

The Tribunal says GCHQ was well within its rights to intercept the communications of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights and The Legal Resources Centre of South Africa, although, for some reason or another, it kept the resulting stash of information for longer than it was supposed to.

Because the interceptions themselves were deemed legal and there was no sign of "material damage" being caused to those being watched there's no fine imposed on GCHQ for the rule breach, although GCHQ was asked to confirm within 14 days that the files held relating to the EIPR had been deleted.

Eric King, the deputy director of Privacy International, doesn't believe the agency's explanation that these are one or two-off cases, saying: "Make no mistake, these internal failures will not be limited to just these instances. Trying to pass off such failings as 'technical', or significant changes in law as mere 'clarifications', has become a tiring defence for those who know the jig is up." [BBC via Engadget]