By now, most people in the “free” European democracies and in the US have accepted that we now live in a de facto surveillance state, as government agencies like the NSA (in the US) and MI5 and GCHQ (in the UK) hoover up reams of personal data – everything from our log logs, texts and browser history – and dump it in a giant database.
This week, a civil rights group is making the latest effort to try and hold this vast and unchecked government bureaucracy accountable by challenging MI5, the British domestic intelligence service, in the country’s high court, accusing it of violating data collection and storage privileges by storing private citizens’ information in bulk without proper protections.
The suit, brought by the human rights organization Liberty, alleges that MI5 has no control of its storage of vast volumes of people’s calls, messages, web browsing history, as well as other personal data that the agency has managed to obtain on the basis of surveillance warrants, which were often issued under false pretext, according to RT.
Furthermore, MI5 routinely violates privileges obtained by the Investigatory Powers Act (IPA), which allows the security services to hack individuals computers and phones under the pretext of national security. And though the suit alleges that the agency has been aware of the breaches, it has purportedly done nothing to address them.
Liberty claims that the MI5 persistently violates privileges obtained by the Investigatory Powers Act (IPA), which allows the security services to hack individuals’ computers and phones in the name of national security. The agency’s failures have been identified by the head of the Investigatory Powers Commissioner’s Office (IPCO), Sir Adrian Fulford, who is tasked with safeguarding the storage and timely deletion of bulk data. A series of 10 documents and letters from MI5 and IPCO have been shared with the court in support of the claims.
The spy agency has been aware of breaches of compliance with the IPA for at least three years but has “kept the failings secret,” according to the evidence presented. The MI5 handling of people’s data was found to be “undoubtedly unlawful”by Fulford, who accused the intelligence service of “historical lack of compliance” with IPA safeguards.