A judgement by the Investigatory Powers Tribunal has deemed that the information intercepted in bulk by the NSA, and then used by GCHQ over a period of seven years, to be unlawful and a breach of human rights law. When GCHQ obtained data about British citizens from the NSA, it attempted to bypass protections within the UK legal system.
Although the judgement covers GCHQ's access to Prism/Upstream, it doesn't cover Tempora and other UK programmes of mass surveillance.
Pirate Party Leader Loz Kaye said:
"The implications of this ruling are very serious. It's now clear our government has been carrying out illegal mass surveillance. Also GCHQ has now acknowledged 'bulk interception' which it insists isn't mass surveillance. This spin fools no one.
The order is a step in the right direction, but it still doesn't answer questions about the UK's own spying programmes, or the reciprocal arrangements between the 'Five Eyes' countries.
This leaves the government and particularly Mr Clegg, with a huge problem. We were promised that we weren't all to be snooped on and that activity was carried out in a strict legal framework. The IPT has found that isn't quite the case.
Many in the pro-surveillance lobby have been describing Edward Snowden as a traitor. In fact this ruling shows he has been pointing out crimes - crimes committed against all of us."