Liberty asks for inquiry into claims of net spying

GCHQ have been accused of monitoring communications unlawfully. Picture: PA
GCHQ have been accused of monitoring communications unlawfully. Picture: PA
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A LEADING civil liberties group has requested a formal investigation into whether British intelligence services unlawfully accessed its communications.

Liberty said it had lodged a claim with the Investigatory Powers Tribunal over what it described as “out-of-control snooping”. It has asked the body to examine whether its human rights have been breached.

Documents disclosed by US whistleblower Edward Snowden suggest UK eavesdropping agency GCHQ secretly accessed fibre-optic cables carrying huge amounts of internet and communications data.

GCHQ is also said to have accessed information about UK citizens via the US National Security Agency’s secret Prism monitoring programme.

The Cheltenham-based agency insists it is “scrupulous” in complying with the law.

Foreign Secretary William Hague has dismissed claims that it used Prism to circumvent the law as “baseless”.

But James Welch, legal director of Liberty, said: “Those demanding the Snoopers’ Charter seem to have been indulging in out-of-control snooping even without it – exploiting legal loopholes and help from Uncle Sam. No-one suggests a completely unpoliced internet, but those in power cannot swap 
targeted investigations for endless monitoring of the entire globe.”