Edward Snowden Applauds the EU Court’s Decision as a Step Forward in Recognizing the “Devastation” of Mass Surveillance
Edward Snowden, a former National Security Agency contractor, praised a recent decision on intelligence-gathering activities issued by a European court, stressing “how far we’ve come” in recognizing the “devastating effects” of mass surveillance.
In response to the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights’ latest ruling, Snowden tweeted, “It’s hard to overemphasize how far we’ve come from the pre-2013 world when even the highest judicial authorities are starting to understand the catastrophic effect of two decades of mass surveillance.”
In Big Brother Watch and Others v. the United Kingdom, the European Court of Human Rights upheld a 2018 decision by the court’s lower chamber, finding that mass surveillance by the British government violated human rights legislation under the European Convention aimed at protecting Europeans’ right to privacy.
The court’s 17 judges unanimously decided that British intelligence services’ mining of billions of calls, emails, text messages, and other data lacked objective oversight necessary to safeguard the right to privacy and freedom of speech.
Most judges, however, permitted the continued exchange of intercepted digital messages with foreign governments or intelligence services.
On that point, five judges disagreed, including Judge Paulo Pinto de Albuquerque, whom Snowden cited in a retweet.
Pinto de Albuquerque claimed in the court’s decision that the ruling did not go far enough, arguing that “indiscriminate mass communications monitoring has proved to be ineffective for the prevention of terrorism and therefore is not only harmful for the defense of human rights but also a waste of resources,” as a number of European governing bodies have shown.
A society in which Europeans’ data must be processed, analyzed, and profiled, according to the judge, “is more akin to a police state than to a democratic society.”
Pinto de Albuquerque wrote, “This would be the polar opposite of what the founding fathers wished for Europe when they signed the Convention in 1950.”
“If this is the new standard that my educated colleagues in the majority want for Europe,” he continued, “I cannot join them, and I say this with a disenchanted spirit.”
The ruling on Tuesday was seen as a win for civil rights organizations that had opposed the policies revealed by Snowden.
Silkie Carlo, the director of Big Brother Watch, a British privacy advocacy organisation that was at the forefront of the. This is a condensed version of the information.