Privacy International helps individuals find out if they were spied on by the GCHQ

Continuing with its “Did GCHQ Illegally Spy On You?” campaign, Privacy International has set up a website with instructions for individuals and organizations on how to petition the UK Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT) to check whether the UK GCHQ spied on them.

“Consistent with the Edward Snowden revelations, the IPT has already revealed that GCHQ has spied on civil society groups such as Amnesty International,” the organization explained.

“Despite billions of records being shared every day between the NSA and GCHQ, and that historical sharing having been declared unlawful, the IPT has not yet confirmed to any claimant that their communications were part of those unlawfully shared. Given the mass surveillance capabilities of the NSA and GCHQ, and that the agencies operate with an ‘extensive degree of sharing’ between them, a huge number of people could have been affected by the unlawful spying.”

The website allows individuals to generate personal claims that they can then submit directly to the IPT to see if their communications were part of those unlawfully shared between the GCHQ and the NSA.

Privacy International can’t file these requests on behalf of individuals or organizations, so they have to do it themselves. If they choose to do it, they will have to either represent themselves or hire a lawyer, and they will have to take on the responsibility of keeping up with requests from the court.

“Because people all over the world are affected by illegal intelligence sharing, not just British people, it means that anyone in the world can ask if their records were collected by the NSA and were unlawfully shared with GCHQ,” PI explained, and said that even though they can’t legally represent claimants in this effort, they will be providing tips and updates on their own claims they filed with the IPT in order to help.

Things that potential claimants should know:

  • This campaign will only tell you if the NSA shared your communications with GCHQ before December 2014 (via the PRISM and UPSTREAM programs), not if GCHQ shared communications with the NSA.
  • You will be required to share some of their data with the GCHQ: name, email address, phone number, IP address, a cookie, a hardware address, and more. They are required to use this information solely for the purpose of this search.
  • Any found information will be revealed, and you can request for it to be deleted.
  • Anyone in the world can file a claim, not just UK citizens.

Potential claimants are advised to file the claim as soon as possible, because the search will only include records that go back a year, and the cutoff point is December 2014.

Human Rights Watch and three individuals working in security research, investigative journalism, and in law, have lodged on Monday a legal challenge to establish whether their communications were part of those unlawfully shared between the two intelligence agencies.

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