UK spies can get intercepted communications from NSA without warrant, government lawyers admit


British intelligence services can get bulk intercepted communications data from the NSA and other foreign agencies without a warrant, information disclosed by government lawyers has shown. This would likely include the communications of people in the U.K. itself.

This information about “arrangements” between U.K. spy agency GCHQ and foreign counterparts such as the NSA was given to the Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT), the body that supposedly oversees how spies and public authorities use surveillance under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act, or RIPA. It was disclosed as part of a legal case brought about by human rights groups, including Privacy International, Amnesty International and Liberty, in the wake of Edward Snowden’s NSA leaks.

When authorities spy within the U.K., RIPA says they need a warrant to look at the contents of communications, as opposed to metadata, which is relatively easy to obtain. However, the arrangements that have now come…

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