The UK's Investigatory Powers Tribunal has rule don GCHQ's collection of bulk communicatiosn metadata, finding that they had spied illegally on the UK public for seventeen years:
British security agencies have secretly and unlawfully collected massive volumes of confidential personal data, including financial information, on citizens for more than a decade, senior judges have ruled.
The investigatory powers tribunal, which is the only court that hears complaints against MI5, MI6 and GCHQ, said the security services operated an illegal regime to collect vast amounts of communications data, tracking individual phone and web use and other confidential personal information, without adequate safeguards or supervision for 17 years.
The tribunal said the regime governing the collection of bulk communications data (BCD) – the who, where, when and what of personal phone and web communications – failed to comply with article 8 protecting the right to privacy of the European convention of human rights (ECHR) between 1998, when it started, and 4 November 2015, when it was made public.
It added that the retention of of bulk personal datasets (BPD) – which might include medical and tax records, individual biographical details, commercial and financial activities, communications and travel data – also failed to comply with article 8 for the decade it was in operation until it was publicly acknowledged in March 2015.
Seventeen years of illegal spying in violation of the ECHR - you'd think there would be some accountability for that, maybe some people in jail? But no. Instead, GCHQ's abuse is going to be legalised, and they will be handed even more power to engage in mass surveillance on the UK public. Because if the government had to obey its own laws, the "terrorists" might win or something.
I guess being a spy means never having to say you're sorry...