In what comes across as a shocking revelation, UK's domestic counter-intelligence and security agency, commonly referred to as the MI5, today admitted to capturing and reading private data belonging to a campaign group named Privacy International.
According to a report by Bloomberg, Judge Michael Burton said in court on Tuesday that the MI5 allegedly held and “accessed or examined” data about the organisation. However, the London judge did not elaborate on the type of data collected or why was it viewed in the first place.
As per the report, Privacy International, who classify themselves as a global NGO, campaigns against “overreaching state and corporate surveillance,” which could be the reason why it was caught under the MI5 radar. What leaves everyone baffled though is the fact that how there's aren't any safeguards in place to protects organisations from being spied on.
Privacy International’s general counsel, Caroline Wilson, in a statement argues, "Should a domestic intelligence agency charged with protecting national security be spying on a human rights organization based in London? Shouldn’t such spying, if permitted at all, be subject to the strictest of safeguards?"
The UK just admitted the global mass surveillance system was used against civil society—people like you. These programs were never about crime or terrorism, they're about power. It's about control. https://t.co/K72COnXGGJ
— Edward Snowden (@Snowden) September 25, 2018
Privacy International meanwhile, believes that the documents published demonstrate that they have been caught up in MI5's investigations because its data (part of its Bulk Communications Data and Bulk Personal Datasets programmes) was part of the UK intelligence agencies vast databases.
What is even more worrying is the fact that it appears the MI5 is holding on to data associated with millions of UK citizens. Bulk personal datasets as per the MI5 website can include the electoral roll, telephone directories, and travel-related data. Bulk communications data meanwhile includes "the who, where, when, how and with whom of communications, but not what was written or said."
The organisation has also written to Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, asking him to look into the matter and make changes to the country’s laws that cover internet security, and asking for an explanation of why MI5 wanted the data it collected.