Big Brother is reading your email
The British government has been wantonly invading its citizens’ privacy, said James Ball. In a landmark ruling, the European Court of Human Rights found last week that the Government Communications Headquarters—the U.K.’s signals intelligence agency—broke human rights law and threatened press freedom with its bulk surveillance program. That program was exposed by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, who revealed that GCHQ intercepts millions of online communications each day, either collecting the content of messages or their metadata—information such as who sent a message and his or her location. The British government says it only dips into these vast troves of information “in a selective way” through human-led searches. But the court pointed out there’s no protection for journalists, whose sources can be revealed by combing through their contacts. Just one set of GCHQ data included intercepted emails from the BBC, The Guardian, The New York Times, NBC, and others, all saved on a server “available for thousands of U.S. and U.K. spies to read at their leisure.” That British regulators and lawmakers “have overseen this system and seen nothing wrong” is proof of “a too-cozy system that relies too much on trusting the agencies.” The government is considering an appeal, but what it should really do is reform GCHQ.