Privacy warriors drag GCHQ into Euro human rights court over blanket spying, hacking

Brit overseers not interested, so groups ask ECHR instead

Having failed in its bid to block GCHQ's hacking activities at the UK's Investigatory Powers Tribunal, advocacy group Privacy International says it will now take its fight with the UK government to the European Court of Human Rights.

Joined by five other groups from around the globe, Privacy International says it will be arguing that the government's hacking of computers and communications devices as well as its collection of personal data constitute violations of human rights law.

The filing comes as a response to the tribunal's decision in February that the GCHQ's spying and hacking activities were legal.

"The IPT's decision permits the British Government to hack untold numbers of computers, devices or networks abroad without any proper legal framework, oversight or safeguards," said Privacy International legal officer Scarlet Kim.

"Hacking is extremely intrusive, allowing the hacker to, for example, switch on the webcam of a computer, or the mic of a phone without the owner having any idea."

In its latest filing, Privacy International argues that the GCHQ's use of "general warrant" authorization when hacking devices in the UK and internationally will "fail to protect against arbitrary interference and abuse," and as such should constitute a violation of the European Court on Human Rights laws.

They hope to have the February, 2016 IPT ruling overturned by the court.

Joining Privacy International in filing the complaint against the GCHQ are the Chaos Computer Club of Germany, Riseup and May First from the US, Jinbonet of Korea and GreenNet from the UK.

"We are now even more convinced of the need for judicial pre-authorisation and for these sections of the Intelligence Services Act to be clarified," said Cedric Knight of GreenNet.

"It is regrettable that the failure of the IPT to address the lack of either technological or legal limitations on assumed powers has made this challenge necessary." ®

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