Civil rights group Human Rights Watch (HRW) has announced it is taking U.S and UK spying organizations to court to find out just how much they work together sharing information.
The group wants to find how much information was passed between the US National Security Agency (NSA) and UK's Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ).
In a released statement HRW said “Given the mass surveillance capabilities of the NSA and GCHQ, a huge number of people could have been affected by the unlawful spying."
HRW’s general counsel, Dinah PoKempner said that although a recent ruling by the Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT) on charges brought by ten international human rights groups, found the actions of the two intelligence services were illegal up to December 2014, it did not reveal the full extent of intelligence sharing. The human rights group that brought the action included Amnesty International, Bytes for All, and Privacy International,
“We are bringing this case because those who work to protect human rights and expose abuses and war crimes depend on confidentiality of communications,” said PoKempner.
Although HRW was not satisfied with the IPT's earlier ruling, it has had to lodge their new court action with the organization because it is the only British court authorized to investigate intelligence agencies.
PoKempner said the HRW complaint, for now, would focus on the intelligence services which handle the most sensitive information, concentrating firstly on allegations that the GCHQ spied on Amnesty International.
Initially HRW had filed a legal challenge on behalf of itself and an unnamed investigative journalist, a lawyer and a security research expert, but the IPT rejected the challenge, ruling that anyone who was concerned they had been the victim of spying had to submit individual complaints.
As a result HRW filed four individual complaints and has announced it will assist any other individuals who have complaints they want to raise through the IPT with preparing and submitting the required paperwork.