Surveillance

British Spy Agency Being Challenged in European Court over Surveillance

Accused of breaching privacy

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The UK spy agency GCHQ is facing a legal challenge in the European courts over claims its mass online surveillance programmes have breached the privacy of tens of millions of people across the UK and Europe.

Three campaign groups – Big Brother Watch, the Open Rights Group and English PEN – together with the German internet activist Constanze Kurz have filed papers at the European court of human rights alleging that the collection of vast amounts of data, including the content of emails and social media messages, by UK spy agencies is illegal.

The move follows revelations by the US whistleblower Edward Snowden that GCHQ has the capacity to collect more than 21 petabytes of data a day – equivalent to sending all the information in all the books in the British Library 192 times every 24 hours.