British Spy Agency: We Don't Need Warrant for Americans' Data. We Have 'Arrangements'

British intelligence agencies can access Americans’ communications data without a warrant and keep it for two years, newly released documents show.

The British spy agency, the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), revealed the practices, called “arrangements” by the government, to the Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT), a watchdog for national surveillance practices.

Some of the details of of these “arrangements” were provided to human rights organizations including Privacy International, Liberty and Amnesty International, which had brought a challenge regarding GCHQ’s surveillance activities to the IPT following revelations made possible by Edward Snowden.

The policies allow the British agencies to receive bulk data from the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) as well as other foreign agencies.

As detailed in a document (pdf) posted by Privacy International, the arrangements appear to serve as legal justification for the practice, stating that it not a circumvention of law when “it is not technically feasible” to get a warrant “and it is necessary and proportionate for the Intelligence Services to obtain those communications.”

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