GCHQ can access ‘the web browsing histories of every visible user of the internet’, says civil liberties director

GCHQ can access ‘the web browsing histories of every visible user of the internet’, says civil liberties director

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Silkie Carlo has said that GCHQ have programmes that can collate “the web browsing histories of every visible user of the internet” as the European Court found the Government’s mass surveillance violated human rights.

Ms Carlo, the Director of Big Brother Watch told talkRADIO’s Matthew Wright: “GCHQ, which is a UK intelligence agency, have a programme called Karma Police that is effectively a catalogue of the web browsing histories of every visible user of the internet.

“That includes us domestically in the UK as well.

“They also had a programme called Black Hole which was a repository of over one trillion events including internet histories, email messenger records, search engine queries and social media activity.

“So whilst we have had success in court this time, the Government has since introduced a new legal framework to do even more extensive surveillance so we still really need the public support because we really have our work cut out.”

This comes as European judges found the use of some surveillance techniques deployed by Britain’s spy agencies breached human rights obligations.

The case centred on complaints about powers given to security services under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000, which has since been replaced.

This bulk interception is used to collect communications of individuals outside of the UK to identify potential overseas threats.

A summary of the judgment said: "While the court was satisfied that the intelligence services of the United Kingdom take their Convention obligations seriously and are not abusing their powers, it found that there was inadequate independent oversight of the selection and search processes involved in the operation, in particular when it came to selecting the internet bearers for interception and choosing the selectors and search criteria used to filter and select intercepted communications for examination."

 

‘Careful consideration’

The Government said it would give "careful consideration" to the court's findings.

A spokeswoman said: "The Investigatory Powers Act 2016 replaced large parts of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act, which was the subject of this challenge.

"This includes the introduction of a 'double lock' which requires warrants for the use of these powers to be authorised by a secretary of state and approved by a judge.

"An Investigatory Powers Commissioner has also been created to ensure robust independent oversight of how these powers are used."

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