Campaigning group Privacy International is preparing to help “potentially millions” of people request that their GCHQ records be deleted, following a landmark ruling by the Investigatory Powers Tribunal on Friday.
The IPT ruled that the intelligence-sharing relationship between the US and UK had been unlawful prior to December 2014, because the rules governing the UK’s access to the National Security Agency's PRISM and UPSTREAM programmes had been kept secret.
The tribunal held that prior to December last year, the secret policy breached Article 8, the right to a private life, and Article 10, the right to freedom of expression without State interference.
However, according to the ruling, "it now complies with the said Articles".
Privacy International is applying to the IPT to request its own records are deleted prior to December. It is also consulting on ways to help streamline the process for others, and is preparing to set up an online request form.
“This could affect potentially millions of people, including those outside the UK,” said a spokesman from the organisation.
A GCHQ spokesperson neither confirmed or denied the ruling would lead to a flood of requests for records to be destroyed.
The judgment was about whether the regime governing the intelligence-sharing arrangements between the countries was legal, said a spokesman. And if it "was fully compatible with the requirements of the European Convention on Human Rights in the period before the IPT handed down a decision in December that affirmed that these legal arrangements are now compatible".
The spokesman added: "It is a not a ruling about anything that GCHQ may have actually done.
"It has always been the case that the IPT will consider complaints by individuals relating to the use of investigatory powers by the law enforcement and intelligence agencies. This judgment does not change that.”
Privacy International is appealing the tribunal’s earlier decision that GCHQ’s access to NSA data was lawful from December 2014 onward because the secret policies governing the US-UK intelligence relationship were made public during the case. ®