Edward Snowden decided to seek asylum in Russia after the controversial leakage in the United States classified government surveillance information.
Things had begun to cool down in the U.S. however, three years down the line, the revelations of former NSA contractor Edward Snowden still have a huge impact in the current world.
For Europe, a recent development has proved that for them, it’s a testament that the worst is yet to come.
Lawsuit Challenging U.K. Mass Surveillance
This came after a lawsuit was filed by 10 organizations which oppose U.K. mass surveillance; this finally has reached the European Court of Human Rights.
This is a development that is quickly becoming the most impactful consequence of Snowden’s leaked documents outside the U.S. The court’s ruling would be legally binding even to Britain, despite their decision to pull out of the European Union.
For Britain to exclude itself completely from any court judgments, it would either be the end of its membership on the Council of Europe they would leave the European Convention on Human Rights altogether.
Edward Snowden Revelations Quoted by Court
According to history, movements like this have had relatively successful outcomes in the past. Human rights activists can afford to be hopeful that the court’s ruling will be in their favor.
Only last year, The European Court of Justice shut off the transatlantic plans of some private companies which sought to share individuals personal information, citing the revelations of Edward Snowden.
U.S. is not clear of the Consequences from the Edward Snowden Leak
As things in Europe begin to heat up, the United States might find its intelligence gathering sources crippled if the court does decide to rule in favor of the 10 non-governmental organizations.
This is because the U.S.’s intelligence gathering relies to a big extent on Britain’s technical operation centers based in Germany, and also an access to the British database.
U.K.’s Domestic Courts Have Failed
The 10 NGO’s filing the suit claim that the U.K. mass surveillance threatens individuals who use modern forms of communication on a global scale.
They question the legality of the government’s mass surveillance of all individuals, groups, and organizations regardless of whether they have been implicated in any crime.
Domestic courts have failed in their duty to question the government over the legitimacy of the surveillance policies of the U.K. government, this is according to the NGO’s.
The case also seeks to challenge the five-year agreement that permits an extensive exchange of data and information between officials from America, Canada, Britain, Australia, and New Zealand, specifically Britain’s access to the intelligence gathered by the United States.
Following the revelations of Edward Snowden, the U.S. and U.K. have spent the last three years invalidating claims that their intelligence-sharing alliance has contravened any laws.
Privacy International’s general counsel Caroline Wilson Palow gave her two cents on the matter, saying that for governments to conduct mass surveillance is a direct violation towards the rights to privacy, which is primarily characterized by principles such as the freedom to express oneself under the Convention of Human Rights.
Britain’s Proposed Investigatory Powers Bill
Britain’s response to the documents leaked by Edward Snowden comes in the form of a proposed overhaul in its government’s intelligence gathering.
While the Investigatory Powers Bill is still in the works, there are lots of speculations that this move seeks to legalize something that the British government has been doing under wraps for a long time now.
In an interview with the Washington Post last year, Wilson Palow described Britain’s proposed overhaul as fundamentally divergent from the surveillance trends of the United States.
She spoke to the Washington Post’s Karla Adam on how the U.K. seemed to be pushing to instate their surveillance policies in the law as the U.S. tries to notch down bulk information collection, which is their version of mass surveillance.
While the British government presents the Investigatory Powers Bill as a vital step in curbing crime, human rights activists cannot help but question the underlying motives and the consequences of giving the government full powers to conduct mass surveillance.
This proposed bill which is not without supporters, was backed by Theresa May who watered it down and likened it to a modernized and itemized phone bill.