In a landmark ruling, the UK Investigatory Powers Tribunal said that 650 people who allege that they have been unlawfully spied on by the UK intelligence service GCHQ can have their cases heard – but only if they provide more details.
Scarlet Kim, Legal Officer at campaign group Privacy International told Sputnik:
"The ruling means that people are going to have to provide additional information demonstrating how their personal circumstances may potentially have been at risk of unlawful surveillance. Our position is that, that requirement is unreasonable."
The case arose from a February 2015 judgement in a case brought by Privacy International, Liberty, Amnesty International, and seven other NGO claimants which found that that British intelligence agencies acted unlawfully in accessing personal communications collected by the US National Security Agency (NSA).
As a result, over 650 people from around the world filed claims with the Tribunal, wanting to find out whether their communications were unlawfully obtained by the British intelligence agencies. The tribunal has ruled that it will only hear the claims, if the complainants case provide further evidence that they were unlawfully spied on.
"The tribunal was set up to hear any claims of unlawful surveillance without and kind of conditions showing you might be at risk. The thing with secret surveillance is that – by its nature – it’s very difficult for targets of that surveillance to understand if they have had their communications intercepted.
"When you expand secret surveillance to a bulk, it necessarily captures large swaths of people’s communications and it’s not entirely clear on what basis this is happening. So it’s quite difficult for people to know and they should have the right to submit a claim without demonstrating anything much further than the fact they have been subjected to illegal spying," Scarlet Kim told Sputnik.
The Tribunal will now wait until it has received further submissions to determine whether each claim will be investigated in full.