UK Infringes Human Rights with Mass Surveillance, while VPN Usage Skyrockets

NordVPN comments on the recent ruling by the European Court of Human Rights and on the lack of Internet privacy in the UK

The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that UK’s mass surveillance regime breaches the European Convention on Human Rights.

Current surveillance regime does not assure the privacy of British citizens, said the court. According to its last week’s ruling, the UK’s Government Communications Headquarters, or GCHQ– which performs “bulk interception” of communications data- has “insufficient oversight”and “inadequate safeguards” through its Tempora programme. This means that the collected citizens’ information is not properly protected.

In addition, a 6-1 vote ruled that obtaining communications data from service providers “was not in accordance with the law” and there were also “insufficient safeguards” for journalistic material. This means ISPs - that are required to collect private communications data - can misplace it or misuse it, as it’s also not properly protected.

Tech community and human rights groups have been very vocal about the privacy violations of UK’s surveillance regime that was revealed back in 2013 by Edward Snowden. Following the revelations, legal action was launched by human rights groups, such as Big Brother Watch, English PEN, Open Rights Group and computer science expert Dr. Constanze Kurz.

The British government made surveillance even more pervasive with the Investigatory Powers Bill, passed in November of 2016, which effectively legalized the mass spying.

“We congratulate the efforts of human rights activists that brought this ruling about,” said Marty P. Kamden, CMO of NordVPN.

“NordVPN has long expressed its concerns about creating a backdoor for the government to spy. The British government was doing bulk spying long before the Investigatory Powers Bill. The GCHQ has been maintaining taps on fiber optic systems in the United Kingdom to collect huge amounts of information. The Investigatory Powers Bill, on the other hand, has legally opened a door for the government to access web browsing data and metadata, making everyone’s online activity vulnerable - as cybercriminals can also potentially exploit the open gap.”

Furthermore, accessing and later sharing the vulnerable information among government agencies and those collecting the data (i.e., UK ISPs) might be a big threat in itself, as private data can be mishandled or intercepted.

“After this draconian law passed, NordVPN saw its UK users skyrocket by 165 percent in the first week, and this number has been growing steadily since,” added Marty P. Kamden. “VPN encrypts user's internet traffic data through a secure tunnel before accessing the internet. This protects any sensitive information about one’s location by hiding an IP address, and all other information is encrypted by the VPN security protocol. We believe that people have the right to private communication which is not possible under the current law in the UK.”

NordVPN, like many other VPN service providers, believes in barrier-free Internet and online privacy and arguesthat instead of weakening online encryption, governments should work towards protecting people’s privacy and online security.


Around The World