Watchdogs sue US, EU over bulk surveillance

Watchdogs sue US, EU over bulk surveillance
© Getty Images

Ten privacy watchdog groups sued the U.S. and its closest allies in bulk surveillance for violating the European Convention on Human Rights.

The suit pits civil liberties organizations from the U.S., Egypt, Ireland and Canada as will as international groups like Amnesty International against the U.S., Australia, Canada, New Zealand and United Kingdom. 

ADVERTISEMENT

The privacy groups allege that bulk surveillance violates the Convention’s right to privacy because the U.K.-based wing of the program does not implement adequate safeguards. 

In the filing, the groups quote European Advocate General Saugmandsgaard Øe quoting James Madison to describe the need for adequate safeguards. 

“If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither internal nor external controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself,” they wrote. 

The brief also contains an apology for its abnormal length, 115 pages, saying that the size was needed to address allegations made in a similarly long government filing.

“The Applicants also wish to emphasise that this unfortunate lengthening of the material before the Court should not distract or detract from the relatively simple focus of this application.”