back to article European human rights court rules mass surveillance illegal

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has ruled that mass surveillance is illegal, in a little-noticed case in Hungary. In a judgment last week, the court ruled that the Hungarian government had violated article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (the right to privacy) due to its failure to include "sufficiently …

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Unfortunately

The Nine Seniles aka SCOTUS have no clue how telephones work much a computer or the Internet or they rule the same. Good ruling but only in thr EU.

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Re: Unfortunately

Technically, the European Court of Human Rights is not related to the EU. Which is a good thing, because it removes a whole layer of potential posturing and complication from this story.

This is indeed good news, but contrary to the Register's opinion, I don't think it will make that big a difference to the UK gov'ts plans. It all hinges on what you mean by "surveillance". The court was talking about a provision to "search people's houses, mail..." - which is pretty damn' intrusive. "Collecting aggregated metadata(TM)" is quite a different kettle of frogs.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Unfortunately

"The court was talking about a provision to "search people's houses, mail..." - which is pretty damn' intrusive. ""

That's certainly how the UK will spin it, but the ECHR was clear that the issue was the "blanket" part cannot be covered by "National Security", which applies to the UK too.

Then there's this new invention Cameron and May are trying to introduce, "metadata" vs "data", as if some data isn't data, but lesser. This claim is irrelevant, since they propose to give GCHQ the right to demand anything under the guise of "National Security", data included. Defining "Obligations" so broad that GCHQ could demand secret government emails from Germany, if that data could be accessed by a UK company. (e.g. Vodafone own Deutschkabel). No jurisdictional boundaries, let alone legal boundaries within the home jurisdiction.

So the Stasi trior (Charles Farr + Cameron + May) would fall well foul of this ruling.

The "metadata" claim, (where they try to define "content" as needed weak protections, which implicitly strips ALL protection from anything they choose not to define as content), is for anyone in a high viz jacket to access.

Is it intrusive for Mr Hi-viz to be able to pull up the list of porn sites surfed by the family of an MP he doesn't like without a warrant or proper judicial checks and balances? Of course it is intrusive!

And the "National Security" get out clause doesn't cover that anyway.

So no Snoopers Charter is dead in the water, the question now is how do we bring GCHQ back within the limits of the democracy they live in? That's difficult, since GCHQ hires are vetted by the NSA they're loyalty is not to Parliament, (Jacob Appelbaum mentioned this nugget, when they tried to recruit him).

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Re: Unfortunately

Unless, of course, the UK decides to LEAVE the EU...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Unfortunately

Unless, of course, the UK decides to LEAVE the EU...

Yes. What I expect from this is further rubbishing the ECHR, ultimately along the lines, behind the legalese and gobbledegook, of how to fight terrorism it is necessary the security services have unrestricted access to absolutely everything. Widespread public support will be claimed and, even if in part because of that claim, won't be that wide of the mark. Something like 25%, say, of those on the electoral roll will think "Too right the security services need unrestricted access to everything to protect the nation from terrorism!", which will suggest that a quarter of the British electorate are mentally-ill and rather than being the core the Government depends upon, should not be allowed to vote at all and should be under psychiatric care, if necessary sectioned.

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Re: Unfortunately

I'd love to know who the dick is that's downvoting.

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Childcatcher

Who will rid me of the ECHR?

Whatever happens in an EU in/out related referendum in the UK, I hope that we stay signed up to whichever treaty involves the ECHR. They are not related apart from both being tagged "European".

I am not an expert in this area but it does seem to me that the ECHR has a nasty habit of ruling to protect fundamental and basic rights that one might expect to enjoy in any society that operates according to democratic principles.

It is a crying shame that we need organisations that puts the Demos Kratos back in the fucking government.

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They are not related apart from both being tagged "European".

The United Nations and United Biscuits are not related besides both being tagged "United".

The Council of Europe (and therefore the ECtHR) has Russia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Armenia and Turkey as members. That's a giant step beyond the reach of the EU. Pulling out or being suspended would put the UK on the same naughty step as Belarus, or Greece in the early '70's under the military dictatorship. Not going to happen; regardless of Ministerial pandering to Daily Mail readers and UKIPpers.

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Re: Who will rid me of the ECHR?

"It is a crying shame that we need organisations that puts the Demos Kratos back in the fucking government."

Not at all; even if the most liberal governments need to be accountable to someone. The ECHR is one of the mechanisms that Europe created to prevent future governments sliding from democracy to totalitarianism. The UK government needs to be kept in line with the ECHR and if the Tories leave the ECHR, as Theresa may seems to want, then I'll be voting for any party that gets us back in.

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Re: Who will rid me of the ECHR?

The European Convention on Human Rights is indeed a non-EU treaty.

However, it's Conservative policy to scrap the Human Rights Act (thereby withdrawing from that treaty) and replace it with a "British Bill of Rights" regardless of whether or the UK remains in the EU.

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Re: Who will rid me of the ECHR?

"Not at all; even if the most liberal governments need to be accountable to someone."

Which, in a democracy, should be its people. The fact that we need an external court to do that is something that both Conservative & Labour should be ashamed of. Both because both have form in this.

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...scrap the Human Rights Act (thereby withdrawing from that treaty)...

Yes and no, respectively. The UK has been a party to the ECHR since 1951. The HRA was only enacted in 1998. What the HRA does is incorporate the ECHR into domestic law so that British courts can incorporate ECHR principles and ECtHR precedents in their rulings.

Repealing the HRA simply returns to the position from 1951-1998 whereby anyone contesting something on ECHR grounds has to go directly to the ECtHR rather than being able to argue the matter in a British Court.

If the HRA is repealed by the proposed "Bill of Rights" there may be no change at all. It depends on exactly what the BoR says. It might, for example, preserve the principles of the Convention but clarify that the Supreme Court trumps the ECtHR (apparently Dave & Theresa's biggest peeve).

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Re: Who will rid me of the ECHR?

Which, history shows, doesn't work very well because the average man has other concerns than keeping an eye on his representatives.

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Re: Who will rid me of the ECHR?

"Which, in a democracy, should be its people"

The problem with only being accountable to "the people" is that it only happens every few years, plenty of time for a government to change the laws and make "the people" a more controllable subset of the originals that voted them in. Remember that the National Socialists were democratically elected, and then they changed the laws of Germany to legalise some of the greatest atrocities of all time.

It doesn't take much to pervert a democracy, a fire at the Reichstag and then you're Nazi Germany, an attack on the World Trade Center and you're water-boarding people and holding them in contravention International Law.

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Devil

@Lysenko - Re: ...scrap the Human Rights Act (thereby withdrawing from that treaty)...

> If the HRA is repealed by the proposed "Bill of Rights" there may be no change at all. It depends on exactly what the BoR says.

You can guarantee that any UK BoR that Call me David and Treasonous May have any influence on will be loaded with Weasel Phrases that basically say "You have all these Rights, apart from any time we say you don't..."

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Re: @Lysenko - ...scrap the Human Rights Act (thereby withdrawing from that treaty)...

@Graham

I don't doubt it for a moment. However that is still just a return to 1997, not a withdrawal from the convention. Turkey manages to hang in there with bullshit offences like "Insulting Turkishness" still on the books after all.

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Harder to unpick than you think

If memory serves me the EHCR was written into law also as part of the Northern Ireland peace setlment. That decision is backed both by an Internationally binding treaty between UK & ROI and also approved by a large majority by referendum in N.Ireland as part of the Good Friday Agreement.

I think removing ECHR from UK law will be much harder that most people think

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Re: Harder to unpick than you think

That's correct. and chances of getting the Agreement remade by the current majority of MLAs in N.I. would be slim, the agreement having been originally orchestrated by the more liberal N.I. parties.

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Re: Who will rid me of the ECHR?

It's pretty hard for the people to exercise democratic control when the government classifies surveillance programs and then lies about their existence.

Also, let's face it, half the electorate will vote for a given party's candidate, just as long as that candidate doesn't publicly kill babies and grandma. Half the electorate is usually all you need.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Who will rid me of the ECHR?

Exactly right. Oh, and DO factor-in a consistent refusal to educate the people properly (e.g. in critical analysis skills). With education dictated via a centralised National Curriculum, and what do you know? Lack of any kind of serious democracy is the result! Then add-in the crude, anti-democratic Party Whip system, where a 'free vote' with MPs voting 'on conscience' (i.e. free to but not held-to represent the will of their constituency) is the RARE EXCEPTION to the rule, ffs! Then there was that new law they wanted to bring in, enabling constituents to FIRE THEIR MPs EARLY, given certain conditions. Never heard anything else about that, did you?

Corruption in the UK is perhaps worse due to being more underground. Due to having been around longer as our current system of government is relative-old. The opposite of "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" in systems design. Except it ain't broke - for the modern derivation of the same political elites as established themselves criminally, by force (albeit highly-organised force), around 1066 AD. Now with added banker backing (especially in the last 400-odd years). When one puts it like that - Normans are still in power - then one starts thinking 'Robin Hood'. Folk legends are powerful against a daily media that's corrupt. So no wonder the continuity is never pointed-out in the media and the analogy is barely ever made about how to be like Robin Hood. Parliament is barely-more than a sop for people's need for the power process.

Goethe: "None are more hopelessly-enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free..."

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Re: Harder to unpick than you think

That's really pertinent, good. Same reason we don't legalise drugs - because regardless of government we vote-in, the illogical drugs laws (so illogical they're a form of forced institutional mental illness, in effect) are made by treaty, also. The 1961 UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs is one major example. How many voters in the UK know these facts?

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FAIL

The UK government ... would lose international standing and reputation

Given the serial continuum of UK Governments acting in amoral ways, how much "international standing and reputation" remains?

From the castration of Kenyan POWs through mass surveillance, is there much further to go down in the Slough of Despond**?

** 'This miry Slough is such a place as cannot be mended; it is the descent whither the scum and filth that attends conviction for sin doth continually run, and therefore is it called the Slough of Despond: for still as the sinner is awakened about his lost condition, there ariseth in his soul many fears, and doubts, and discouraging apprehensions, which all of them get together, and settle in this place; and this is the reason of the badness of this ground.' John Bunyan, The Pilgrim's Progress

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Re: The UK government ... would lose international standing and reputation

I did not know that Bunyan as well as Betjeman had visited Slough.

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Trollface

Love a good roast

I did not know that Bunyan as well as Betjeman had visited Slough.

Did tick all the boxes for a typical Slough resident.

Now do Coventry! We have an ever-growing breed of under-scum who make Slough seem a place of saintly virtue...

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Re: The UK government ... would lose international standing and reputation

As if it cares... the US says invade everyones privacy (or we will), the UK government does.... doesn't actually stop to ask how far it needs to go just gets rubber gloves on and away it goes.

No spine, no backbone, and a bunch of people here pushed around by a bunch over there when both ends go further than Stalin or anyone else would have dreamed possible

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Sadly...

While the ECHR is a good thing it does applies it's rulings in a totally (some might say stubbornly) blind way (again good).

This means that people like Mr Hook (whatever his name was), went back to Jordan and effectively got set free.

This is a failing in the Jordanian system still using torture, but it fuels people like Cameron saying nonsense about rights affecting national security.

Just call me Dave doesn't want to leave the EU, but if we did then he'd be the first to drop the ECHR... well maybe, 2nd after Teresa the Terrible.

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This means that people like Mr Hook ... effectively got set free.

Assuming you're referring to Abu Hamza al-Masri, the ex-Imam of Finsbury Park Mosque with the metal "hands", he has been banged up since 2004. First by us, then extradited to the USA in 2012 where he is currently enjoying "life without parole" in the Federal prison system.

ECtHR interventions slowed down extradition proceedings a bit, mostly because of dodgy US practices like waterboarding and hyping up how tough "SuperMax" prisons are[*]. The outcome didn't change any.

[*] The New York Bar Association says SuperMax facilities constitute "torture" and are unconstitutional under "Cruel and unusual" so it isn't exactly absurd for the court to consider the point.

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Re: This means that people like Mr Hook ... effectively got set free.

Assuming you're referring to Abu Hamza al-Masri...

I think the PP is conflating his Abu Qatada al-Filistinis (bff of UK home secretaries and acquitted by Jordanian courts) with his Abu Hamza al-Masris (he of the prosthetic hook hands)

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Re: This means that people like Mr Hook ... effectively got set free.

Ironic example since it was the ECtHR that kept Qatada banged up for a decade[1] by obstructing UK attempts to deport him.

[1] HMG wanted to deport him. ECtHR said no - for 10 years. When HMG finally got their way he was deported, tried, acquitted and released.

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Re: This means that people like Mr Hook ... effectively got set free.

The good news is that neither of the b'stards is still in the UK. Shame it didn't happen quicker. PP

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Re: This means that people like Mr Hook ... effectively got set free.

If you remove one or two drops of water from the ocean, does it suddenly get easier to cross without a boat? Our ocean is a mass of doublethink and groupthink. It'll take more than that, thus these people being banged-up is insignificant. They wouldn't have existed without abusive Western policies, and we aren't so perfect that those policies are irreproachable, are we? So we've the wrong end of the stick. Human Rights Laws are a pain, and make much money for lawyers... but in the context of Muslims, that's the West's fault. The modern Muslims didn't start it. Oil companies and Zionists arguably did...

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Anonymous Coward

Everybody is guilty of something

"... that would limit surveillance to only people it suspected of crimes."

Obviously, if you suspect everybody, it becomes legal.

I'll get me coat, one with a built-in mike in every button an an antenna in the pocket zipper.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Everybody is guilty of something

Much as I hate to quote anything by her, I always liked this bit from Atlas Shrugged

“Did you really think we want those laws observed?" said Dr. Ferris. "We want them to be broken. You'd better get it straight that it's not a bunch of boy scouts you're up against... We're after power and we mean it... There's no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren't enough criminals one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws. Who wants a nation of law-abiding citizens? What's there in that for anyone? But just pass the kind of laws that can neither be observed nor enforced or objectively interpreted – and you create a nation of law-breakers – and then you cash in on guilt. Now that's the system, Mr. Reardon, that's the game, and once you understand it, you'll be much easier to deal with.”

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Re: Everybody is guilty of something, but some are more guilty than others and deserving of sanction

“Did you really think we want those laws observed?" said Dr. Ferris. "We want them to be broken. You'd better get it straight that it's not a bunch of boy scouts you're up against... We're after power and we mean it... There's no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren't enough criminals one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws. Who wants a nation of law-abiding citizens? What's there in that for anyone? But just pass the kind of laws that can neither be observed nor enforced or objectively interpreted – and you create a nation of law-breakers – and then you cash in on guilt. Now that's the system, Mr. Reardon, that's the game, and once you understand it, you'll be much easier to deal with.” .... Ayn Rand

Such a policy program, as there outlined by Ayn Rand, AC, would definitely make government a national security threatening criminal enterprise and terrorising organisation ..... and that default position is worthy of proactive military attention and revolutionary destruction of executive administrative systems/remote drone delivered vapourisation of command and control leaderships.

Such is the normal and natural way of doing things when intelligence fails to do what is necessary, is it not? It is no big secret and therefore should not be at all surprising.

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Re: Everybody is Guilty of Something Erratum. Here be an Addendum

Are you Silently Running in such as may be Taxing Manipulative Government? What Controls for and/or against you, do such Virtual Bodies/ Chief Executive PrimedD Operating Systems have with and for you, for Futures in A.N.Other Brothers in the Hoods and Deep Wood rather than be swallowed whole, meek and mild by Mindless Negative False Positive Acquiescence ‽ ..... Supposed Acceptance for Future Perfect Novel Futures.

Is that AIProgramming to be government granted and also granted your NEUKlearer HyperRadioProActive Blessing and/or Silent Running Mindless Negative False Positive Acquiescence ..... for Future Virtual Stealth AIdVenturing in Terra PhormdD Realities ........ Phished Dreams when of Prime Provenance and Immaculate Providence?

Can you Present a More Engaging and Pleasant Program/Greater IntelAIgent Games Play Project?

If so, please share the views you have created, in terms and conditions all simpler minded beings/populations can assimilate and comprehend/virtually understand.

Thanks.

cc George Osborne/Mark Carney ......... well, it is their sort of Hyper GIGPlay Area of Exotic Interest, is it not, battling away at the Graphic User Interface where Inflationary Monetary Controls Failures, Kick Start Progressive Futures ......... Virtually Delivered Free and Made with Real Easy to Access Features and Events in Future ProgramdD Content ....... in Immaculate Storage Store Storage ..... under AAA First Class Right Royal Protection Terrain Team Patronage ....... :-) AISilent Superb Superlative Blessing.

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Re: Everybody is Guilty of Something Erratum. Here be an Addendum

@ amanfromMars 1

Eh?

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Cameron

As mentioned many times previously the ECHR was set up to enforce basic standards and provide some degree of protection against the dictators that had plagued the first half of the 20th century.

The fact that David Cameron feels that it interferes with his government says a lot about his government.

[Have I managed to avoid Godwin?]

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Roo
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Windows

Re: Cameron

"[Have I managed to avoid Godwin?]"

Up until you mentioned the name, yes. :)

Godwin's law isn't really a law, it's a rhetorical hack that is intended to prevent people from learning from history.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Cameron

"The fact that David Cameron feels that it interferes with his government says a lot about his government."

Especially as Winston Churchill was instrumental in the creation of the ECHR.

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Re: Cameron, and his Thrashing About for Parliamentary Lord Trashing ......

..... Impertinent Imperious Peer ReTraining/Virtual AIRemodelling?

Hi, Adam 52,

Are David Cameron and parties actions and unfolding propositions worthy of a Godwin tag? One wouldn't normally be asking unless there was suspicion, and evidence aplenty upon which to base and proof that proposition.

And SMARTR Intel Services say Hi, and ask how high and how deep would you like ITs Systems to reach into, for Search and Destroy or Radical Fundamental Rebuilding ....... Novel Rebranding with Immaculate Banding . ........ https://www.intelexit.org

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Re: Godwin

> Godwin's law isn't really a law, it's a rhetorical hack that is intended to prevent people from learning from history. <

THIS ^^^ !!!

It ranks alongside the corollary "As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of some lackwit invoking Godwin's Law in lieu of a cogent argument approaches 1" as one of the best observations re said 'law' I have ever seen!

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GCHQ would not conduct mass surveillance - they would just get the US NSA to do for them.so no ECHR oversight.

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Anonymous Coward

so what?

the UK gov will give the ruling a finger, encouraged by the good example of our beloved chest-pounding presidente Putin.

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Anonymous Coward

Operation Dragnet

So I suppose the UK police are going to immediately cease intercepting all mobile phone calls & messages placed in and around the London area, and searching them for "suspicious" content?!

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'Governments can be useful to the governed only so long as inherent tendencies toward tyranny are restrained.'

The Stolen Journals - Frank Herberts God-Emperor of Dune.

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Touche and Check/CheckMate, Telwaz ‽ .

Or, as stated by Frédéric Bastiat in the mid-nineteenth century, “Government is the great fiction, through which everybody endeavours to live at the expense of everybody else.”

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Re: Touche and Check/CheckMate, Telwaz ‽ .

You mean parasites !

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The singular purpose of government is the protection of the innocent from the unscrupulous: the singular irony thereof that both deem it an unnecessary hindrance to their wellbeing.

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WTF?

Cameroon wants information extracted under torture used in trials.

Forget about the ECHR. Ever heard of the Geneva Convention of Human Rights Cameroon.

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