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European Policy, Government Surveillance

CDT & PEN American Center Intervene in Big Brother Watch vs. UK Case

The US’ protections for individual rights in the area of secret surveillance are so weak that the UK violates its obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights when it receives data the NSA obtains through large-scale surveillance programs, CDT said today in a third-party intervention (akin to an amicus brief) filed in a European Court of Human Rights case.

The case, Big Brother Watch and others v. the United Kingdom, was brought by three UK organizations and a surveillance expert following the Snowden revelations; their complaint argues that the UK’s receipt of surveillance data from the US intelligence agencies violates their right to respect for their private life and correspondence.

CDT intervened jointly with PEN American Center in order to explain the weakness of the protections that apply to US surveillance laws to the Court, and submitted that the UK government knows or should know about these serious shortcomings.  CDT and PEN America also argued that the Court should take account of the “chilling effect” that privacy violations resulting from secret surveillance have on free expression and other fundamental rights.