UK admits it spied illegally for 17 years, is sorry, won’t stop


After more than a year of legal struggle, the UK’s Investigatory Powers Tribunal has issued a landmark ruling on the country’s secret bulk collection program. That program, first revealed by Edward Snowden, allowed the country’s surveillance agency, the GCHQ, to tap internet cables and build a detailed database of the country’s communications with little to no legal oversight.

The ruling has both good news and bad news for British spies. First, the bad news: the court found that, between 1998 and the tail end of 2015, GCHQ’s bulk collection program was conducted in brazen defiance of Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights. Parliament never approved the program as legal, despite several opportunities to do so.

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