The European Court of Human rights ruled Tuesday that Britain’s GCHQ secret service violated the Article 8 right to privacy and Article 10 right to freedom of expression by obtaining communications data from communications service providers.
The ruling comes following the complaints of journalists and human rights organizations over the bulk interception of communications, the receipt of intercepted material from foreign government and intelligence agencies, and the obtaining of communications data from service providers.
The court said that GCHQ had wide discretion in deciding the surveillance scheme necessary to protect national security, but should have considered the risks of human rights violations. According to the court, the fact that the acquisition of data from service providers had been done in a way that breached UK privacy laws also resulted in a breach of Article 8.
The Article 10 breach arose from the interception of confidential journalistic material, with no safeguards limiting access to it.