UK intelligence agencies ‘unlawfully’ sharing sensitive personal data, court hears

A secret court will decide whether Intelligence agencies are “unlawfully” sharing huge datasets containing sensitive information about the population with industry, government departments and overseas intelligence services.

Britain’s intelligence agencies are sharing highly sensitive data about the population with foreign intelligence services, industry and other UK government agencies, without adequate protections in place, the UK’s most secret court will hear this week.

Campaigning group Privacy International will argue in a hearing at the Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT) that intelligence services are sharing huge datasets about largely innocent people with third parties without sufficient controls on how the data will be used.

The case is expected to shed light on the way in which GCHQMI5 and MI6 share sensitive information, originally collected for national security purposes, with partner intelligence services in the Five Eyes network, law enforcement and government departments, including HMRC, and with private sector partners and universities.

It emerged during a hearing at Southwark Crown Court on 17 October 2017 that the UK intelligence agencies hold a bulk database containing the records of potentially millions of people’s social media use.

Further disclosures reveal that intelligence watchdog, the Investigatory Powers Commissioner’s Office (IPCO), has raised particular concerns about a lack of safeguards in place to prevent the misuse of systems by private contractors, who are given “administrator” access to the information collected by UK intelligence agencies.

The watch dog only became aware of the intelligence community’s practice of sharing data with industry and UK law enforcement, as a result of Privacy International’s legal challenge, and subsequently ordered an immediate inspection, it emerged today.

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