Liberty, the civil rights group that brought the case, claimed the ruling meant that British spies had acted illegally by “accessing” data about the public. The claim was strongly denied by the Government, which said no requests to the Americans to spy on people had ever been made.
The tribunal found the regime was unlawful up to last December, when decisions were made to publish details of practices, which made them lawful.
Liberty said it would now go to the European Court of Human Rights to prove that these “limited safeguards” were not adequate.
British spies’ system for snooping on the public’s internet communications was today branded unlawful in a historic ruling. Arrangements were made that let GCHQ benefit from mass interception by the US National Security Agency of online communications without disclosing adequate safeguards.The criticism came in the first ever judgment against the intelligence services by Britain’s most secretive court, the Investigatory Powers Tribunal, in its 15-year history. The ruling governed the circumstances in which UK spies could ask US allies to supply a person’s private internet communications, such as emails.