Earlier this year, there was an extremely important ruling made about GCHQ's surveillance activities:
Privacy International, Bytes for All and other human rights groups are celebrating a major victory against the Five Eyes [surveillance club made up of US, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand] today as the UK surveillance tribunal rules that GCHQ acted unlawfully in accessing millions of private communications collected by the NSA up until December 2014.
That strange cut-off date is when a particular aspect of GCHQ's activities was revealed; the court held that it was illegal until that moment, but not afterwards, because no longer secret. However strange that logic, the important point is that the UK government has been found guilty of illegal surveillance on members of the UK public. One of the organisations that won the legal victory wants to use that fact to help us find out what the UK government knows about us:
Have you ever made a phone call, sent an email, or, you know, used the internet? Of course you have!
Chances are, at some point over the past decade, your communications were swept up by the U.S. National Security Agency's mass surveillance program and passed onto Britain's intelligence agency GCHQ. A recent court ruling found that this sharing was unlawful but no one could find out if their records were collected and then illegally shared between these two agencies… until now!
Because of our recent victory against the UK intelligence agency in court, now anyone in the world — yes, ANYONE, including you — can find out if GCHQ illegally received information about you from the NSA.
Privacy International is trying to make that process as easy as possible, but you can also do it directly by following the instructions on this Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT) Web page. You can either download the form, fill it in, and send it back by post, or – theoretically – fill it in electronically. However, this requires Adobe Acrobat in order to sign the document. Judging by the Acrobat download page, there is now no version for GNU/Linux, which means that people using this operating system are discriminated against by the IPT. Mind you, given that free software is the best defence against GCHQ spying, a little petty revenge-taking is probably to be expected….