"If their motivation is to catch terrorists, then are there less intrusive methods than spying on everyone whose traffic happens to transverse the U.K.?" said Eric King, head of research at Privacy International.
Mike Rispoli of the privacy campaign group Privacy International said there were no clear rules governing border stops, especially regarding access to electronic data.
"The fact is that when the Terrorism Act was passed [in 2000] phones were very different to what they are now," he told Al Jazeera. "Now our phones carry so much information. They have pictures, they have browsing history and location information, along with text messages and phone numbers. We are operating in a legal framework that is woefully outdated."
Privacy International recently submitted a legal challenge calling on the suspension of Britain’s use of information from the National Security’s Agency Prism programme, and from the Tempora programme of surveillance of emails, phone calls and Skype conversations.
Eric King with the London-based human rights organization Privacy International said today’s finding “wasn’t surprising.” He said Parliament has become too friendly with the intelligence agencies they’re meant to be investigating.
Following reports that the Mexican prosecution authority appears to be not only using FinFisher, but also to be involved in a corruption scandal surrounding the purchase of this intrusive surveillance technology, the Mexican Permanent Commission (composed of members of the Mexican Senate and Congress) has urged Mexico's Federal Institute for Access to Public Information and Data Protection (IFAI) to investigate the use of spyware in Mexico.
The practice is being challenged by Big Brother Watch, Open Rights Group, Liberty, Privacy International, Index on Censorship, English PEN and Article 19. They have written to Keith Vaz, chair of the select committee, raising their concerns.
Dr Gus Hosein, of the campaign group Privacy International, said: “We are extremely concerned by these intrusive tactics that have been highlighted by the independent terrorism reviewer.
It is a long-standing privacy principle that an individual should have access to their personal information. This is particularly necessary in healthcare - after all there is nothing more personal than health information.
Lawyers acting for the UK charity Privacy International say the programme is not necessary or proportionate. They say the laws being used to justify mass data trawling are being abused by intelligence officials and ministers, and need to be urgently reviewed.
Privacy International has submitted a claim to the Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT), which is supposed to review all complaints about the conduct of Britain's spy agencies. The organisation hopes for a public hearing and early rulings because of the seriousness of the situation.
Privacy International has filed a lawsuit in the UK against the government, claiming that the GCHQ spy-agency's Tempora programme violates UK spying regulations.
On the other side of the Atlantic, a separate legal challenge was lodged Monday in response to the government surveillance programs disclosed by Snowden. London-based Privacy International filed a complaint alleging that British spy agency GCHQ may be circumventing U.K. law by obtaining data on British citizens from the NSA’s PRISM Internet surveillance program.
The privacy group has asked the tribunal for a declaration that Tempora is in violation of various regulations including RIPA and the European Convention on Human Rights. It has also asked for an order to destroy all unlawfully obtained material. The complaint also cites rights to privacy and freedom of expression in ECHR to ask the tribunal for a declaration against the Secretary of State for not ensuring that there is in place a legal regime governing the soliciting, receiving, storing and transmitting by U.K. authorities of private communications of individuals located in the U.K.
“Secret law is not law,” said Eric King, head of research at London-based Privacy International, which campaigns against intrusion by governments and corporations. “The scope and scale of this program, which monitors the entire British public and much of the world, cannot be justified as necessary and proportionate.”
The organisation announced the legal challenge today claiming that the “expansive spying regime is seemingly operated outside of the rule of law, lacks any accountability, and is neither necessary nor proportionate”.
"It is a fundamental breach of the social contract if the government can operate with unrestrained power in such an arbitrary fashion," Privacy's Eric King said in a statement.
According to Privacy International, the PRISM data-sharing mean the UK government runs an unaccountable surveillance regime that contravenes the European Convention of Human Rights, which gives EU citizens a right to privacy and personal communications, as well as a right to freedom of expression.
Privacy International is concerned at the lack of court oversight of GCHQ’s access to PRISM and over the “indiscriminate interception” and storage of vast amounts of personal data.
The following excerpt is from a posting in the Guardian's Comment is Free by Carly Nyst, Privacy International's Head of International Advocacy.
"In order to challenge a secret surveillance system, and to demand the government explains why it is spying on British citizens, one must apply to a secret tribunal that does not make public its proceedings or the reasons for its decision. It may seem like an Orwellian fantasy, but this is the stark reality of the British legal system.
In the wake of revelations that the UK Government is accessing wide-ranging intelligence information from the US and is conducting mass surveillance on citizens across the UK, Privacy International today commenced legal action against the Government, charging that the expansive spying regime is seemingly operated outside of the rule of law, lacks any accountability, and is neither necessary nor proportionate.
The following statement was made to the APEC Data Privacy Subgroup meeting on 24 June 2013, in Medan, Sumatra, by Nigel Waters, attending the meeting as an invited guest. At previous meetings Mr Waters has represented Privacy International, but due to difficulties in obtaining guest status for PI (or other privacy or consumer NGOs) he has attended the last two meetings in an individual capacity.
"Prism is the most egregious example of NSA overreach that we've seen in the last 10 years or so," Eric King, head of research at London-based campaign group Privacy International, told the BBC.
Eric King, head of research at Privacy International, says: “Lawful interception can only happen when there is the rule of law. [The export of] arms, weapons, bulletproof vests – even flares – are controlled. But surveillance equipment is not. And in the wrong hands this technology is just a dangerous,” he says. “No government has taken anywhere close to the steps required to control it.”
"We welcome the court’s decision, and look forward to asking the court to force HMRC to make a fresh decision and disclose what steps, if any, they are taking to hold surveillance companies to account for potentially illegal exports,” said Eric King, head of research at Privacy International.
Gus Hosein, executive director at campaign group Privacy International, told Al Jazeera the UK ranked poorly in the democratic world in terms of the amount of intrusion it allowed, describing the government as "addicted" to new surveillance powers and technologies.
"It is astonishing access they are getting with Tempora," says Eric King, of pressure group Privacy International in London. "Every piece of data that leaves the UK, and every piece of international data that flows through the UK – which is 99 per cent of the world's communications – is available to them."
VICE spoke to Sam Smith from Privacy International about what laws need to be in place to protect the public from drones, and what he anticipates for the future of drone surveillance.
Surveillance operations often require a ministerial sign-off or permission from a superior but it is unclear whether targeting of public social media data requires the same level of oversight, as head of research at Privacy International Eric King point outs.
After challenging HMRC's blanket refusal to release information about the potentially unlawful export of Gamma International's FinFisher surveillance technology, the court has said that the case should proceed to trial and the grounds of Privacy International's challenge are of public importance.
Pero Mike Rispoli, quien habló con BBC Mundo en representación de Privacy International, una organización no gubernamental que lucha contra la intromisión estatal y corporativa en la vida privada, disiente: "Entre sus conocimientos y conexiones, estas firmas se valorizan y crean círculos viciosos donde el gobierno se vuelve dependiente del sector privado en su campaña de espiar a la gente".