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Worldwide ISPs and Privacy International go after GCHQ

GCHQ, the British intelligence agency that is responsible for Tempora, the UK’s version of the NSA’s PRISM spying scheme which hoovers up data on citizens and foreign nationals alike without permission, is going to have to defend itself in court, as a handful of internet service providers from around the world are taking it to task. Teaming up with Privacy International, the team of ISPs wants it to stop using fibre cables and other communication network hardware to spy on people’s private conversations.

The coalition is made up of ISPs from many different countries, including: GreenNet from the UK, Greenhost from the Netherlands, Riseup (US), Mango (Zimbabwe), Jiinbonet (Korea), May First/People Link (US and the Chaos Computer Club from Germany. They all lodged the complaint with the Investigatory Powers Tribunal, which has the power to impose fines, quash warrants and destroy records. Theoretically a ruling in favour off the ISP group, could see GCHQ forced to destroy data records from its snooping.


“These proceedings concern GCHQ’s apparent targeting of internet and communications service providers in order to compromise and gain unauthorised access to their network infrastructures in pursuit of its mass surveillance activities,” reads the filing (via Wired).

The report alleges that GCHQ was able to acquire much of the data it did, by deliberately infecting ISP employee machines with malware in order to gain access to their customer data. The filing also highlights how none of those targeted with this malware were considered threats to national security.

GCHQ and the British government will face several more investigations over the next couple of years, as the European Court of Human Rights is set to look in to the actions of the intelligence agency as well. Privacy International has also filed several other cases relating to GCHQ’s actions over the past few months.

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KitGuru Says: It’s situations like this that make me worried about the idea of leaving the EU. Our government does things already that put it in breach of international law. It seems like it could get a lose worse without EU courts being able to weigh in. 

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