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Technology / Cybersecurity

UK and US privacy watchdogs file complaints over surveillance

Two privacy watchdogs, one in the UK and one in the USA, have filed complaints against their respective governments over surveillance programmes.

In the UK, Privacy International filed a legal action in the Investigatory Powers Tribunal, stating that the expansive spying regime is seemingly operated outside of the rule of law.

The watchdog asserts that the NSA and its UK counterpart, Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), have been conducting dragnet surveillance of American and British citizens, without any public accountability.

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

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"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," King said.

In the US, the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) has filed a Petition with the US Supreme Court, asking the Court vacate an unlawful order by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that allows the collection of all domestic phone record by the National Security Agency.

EPIC said: "It is simply not possible that every phone record in the possession of a telecommunications firm could be relevant to an authorised investigation. . . . Such an interpretation of [the law] would render meaningless the qualifying phrases contained in the provision and eviscerate the purpose of the Act."


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CBR Staff Writer

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