The Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights has ruled that the UK’s mass surveillance programme unlawfully breached citizens’ rights to privacy and free expression.
The judgment means that bulk surveillance in the UK and across Europe will require prior independent or judicial authorisation, checking for adequate “end to end safeguards”, from the initial collection of data to the selection of items for storage.
Today’s ruling is the apex of the legal challenge that Big Brother embarked on with other trusted privacy groups in 2013.
Big Brother Watch, one of the parties in the case, said the UK had been breaching the rights of privacy and free expression “for decades”.
Director Silkie Carlo added: “Mass surveillance damages democracies under the cloak of defending them, and we welcome the Court’s acknowledgement of this. As one judge put it, we are at great risk of living in an electronic “Big Brother” in Europe.”