16:51 GMT23 September 2020
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    Prime Minister David Cameron accepted the recommendations on protecting journalists' privacy. However, restrictions will not affect GCHQ activities, the Media Legal Defence Initiative said.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) — UK authorities' recent decision to narrow police surveillance powers will not affect Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) activities, leaving British journalist sources vulnerable, Media Legal Defence Initiative (MLDI) CEO told Sputnik on Thursday.

    On Wednesday, the UK Interception of Communications Commissioner's Office issued a report, warning that police were increasingly trying to access journalists' email and phone conversations data under anti-terrorism laws, bypassing the courts. The agency said that the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) does not protect journalist sources and concluded that police must obtain permission of a judge to obtain private communications data.

    Prime Minister David Cameron accepted the recommendation.

    "Yesterday's report was about police's use of RIPA and that it is a completely separate issue from what GCHQ is doing. And I don't see any satisfactory resolution around that," Peter Noorlander, MLDI's chief executive said, adding that the issue is extremely serious, taking into account the global scale of UK, European and US spying agency surveillance activities.

    In January, files leaked by whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed that the GCHQ has intercepted journalist emails from high-profile international media outlets, which sparked further concerns of the mitigation of press freedom in the United Kingdom.

    "If journalists can't talk to their sources then they can't report. That is as simple as that," Noorlander said.

    In 2013, Snowden, a former NSA contractor, started leaking millions of classified documents, disclosing large-scale data-mining programs by the US intelligence and the GCHQ, being carried out without any court order.

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    Tags:
    privacy, police, journalists, Media Legal Defence Initiative (MLDI), Interception of Communications Commissioner's Office (IOCCO), Peter Noorlander, David Cameron, Britain
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