‘A four-day protest organized by the hacktivist collective Anonymous UK in support of a legal challenge against pervasive use of mass surveillance has begun outside Britain’s Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ).
Anonymous has dubbed the protest ‘Operation GCHQ’, and is appealing to UK activists to attend the protest outside the UK government’s controversial listening post.
Activists expected to travel to the event are campaigning for a swift change in surveillance policy that will prioritize citizen’s right to privacy over the interests of security agencies.
Anonymous is targeting the Cheltenham-based spy base to highlight grave concerns over an unwavering assault on Britons’ privacy rights in an increasing climate of mass surveillance.
In a recent address directed at GCHQ, Anonymous said, “We are left with no option than to come to you to show our outrage and disgust.”
One member of the hacktivist group told the BBC hundreds of people are expected to arrive at the protest, many of whom have traveled from other nations around the world.Commenting on Anonymous’ privacy concerns, she said, “Nobody wants to feel as though their every move is being watched, as though every bit of data is being collected, and people strongly believe that it’s an illegal thing.”
The surveillance state: ‘duplicitous and deeply’
The legal proceedings which inspired the protest were launched by several civil liberty groups questioning the legality of UK intelligence agencies’ invasive practices – particularly interception, collection and use of communications data.
The case, brought by Liberty, Privacy International, Amnesty International, the American Civil Liberties Union and several other prominent international groups, focuses on grave concerns regarding a mass surveillance program called Tempora.
While UK authorities have not denied the existence of this program, they are unwilling to comment on its operation.
Documents leaked to the Guardian by whistleblower Edward Snowden allege the program facilitates surveillance agencies’ access to private email messages, information entered on social networking sites such as Facebook, and telephone calls.
Britain’s Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT) – a court which investigates complaints pertaining to the unlawful use of covert techniques that infringe on the public’s right to privacy – is currently seeking to ascertain whether or not Tempora even exists.
The IPT heard the case against the Secretaries of State in the Royal Courts of Justice in July. The proceedings, which spanned five days, were held in a public forum.
The hearing was held specifically to discern if several allegations, derived from the Snowden leaks, constituted a violation of Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights. A final judgment was reserved, and the civil liberties groups who launched the proceedings are still awaiting an outcome.
“No-one suggests a completely unpoliced internet, but those in power cannot swap targeted investigations for endless monitoring of the entire globe,” James Welch, legal director for Liberty, said.
A spokesperson for Anonymous’ media team told RT on Friday the group’s main motivation for holding the protest was the government’s insistence on spying on its own people with no legal justification. “Innocent activists who have never broken any laws and act within the law are still targets of GCHQ and other spying agencies”, he said.
In a BBC interview, UK actor and broadcaster Stephen Fry denounced UK authorities’ efforts to justify spying on their citizens on the basis of speculative threats to national security.
“The fear of terrorism that we all have, the fear of the unknown that we all share, the fear of enemies who hate us is a duplicitous and deeply wrong means of excusing something as base as spying on the citizens of your own country,” he said’
Report Source RT