It was recently found out that the European court of human rights has ruled GCHQ’s methods for bulk interception of online communications unlawful and violating the right to privacy of citizens.
Indeed, the court stated that the method breached the right to freedom of expression as well as didn’t provide enough protections for confidential journalistic material. The bulk surveillance method allows the state to collect personal data about its citizens.
However, it was reported that operating a bulk interception regime did not violate the European convention on human rights, and thus it was concluded that GCHQ’s regime for sharing sensitive digital intelligence with foreign governments was not illegal.
The judges revealed that they had identified three fundamental deficiencies in the regime, including that the bulk interception had been authorized by the secretary of state; that categories of search terms had not been included in the application for a warrant; and that search terms linked to an individual had not been subject to prior internal authorization.
Hence, to minimize the risk of the bulk interception power being abused, it was decided that the process must be subject to end-to-end safeguards, so as to guarantee that the operation is supervised and reviewed independently.
This decision then ensures the protection of EU citizens’ rights.