GCHQ: Enemy of the Internet?

filesA report, by Reporters without Borders, has accused GCHQ and the NSA of being no better than their Chinese and Russian counterparts in terms of online censorship and surveillance.

The report entitled Enemies of the Internet is released to coincide with World Day Against Cyber-Censorship and comes on the same day that Sir Tim Berners-Lee has called for a Digital Bill of Rights to safeguard an “open, neutral” internet. It identifies specific government agencies such as GCHQ that have used the pretext of national security to move beyond their core duties and into the strategy of mass online surveillance that is prevalent today.

The authors demonstrate how these practises are undermining attempts to export democratic values to authoritarian regimes in countries such as Iran and Turkmenistan. This is an approach that Reporters without Borders characterises as “schizophrenic” with governments arguing that more countries should embrace concepts such as freedom of expression and freedom of information whilst spy agencies simultaneously curtail them. Big Brother Watch has previously warned about this, in the context of the Snooper’s Charter, pointing out that it had the potential to undo years of foreign policy work on the importance of a free and open internet.

This further highlights the urgent need for surveillance transparency reform as well as review of the legislation which currently governs surveillance practises. These are things that Big Brother Watch has been calling for since the beginning of Edward Snowden’s revelations about the surveillance strategies of the NSA and GCHQ. For more information on how we think this can be achieved please read our recent submission to the Intelligence and Security Committee. As well as this we, along with several other groups, have launched a legal challenge against the legality of GCHQ’s mass surveillance programme.


  1. Alan
    13th March 2014

    GCHQ and other agencies are performing their core duties. How does one expect fair and decent treatment when legalities are the measure? For centuries we have allowed a strata of the population to assume control over our lives, they in turn have constructed a legal system beneficial to that strata. Surveillance is but a small part of the dictatorial attitude assumed to date. Pursue legalities as those that create legalities will in turn be enabled to justify their actions.

  2. larry
    14th March 2014

    The very foundation of democratic nations and civil society has been badly compromised and Rogue State Governments world wide have come to abuse the citizens of the world.

    The madness and false premise that these State organs fight terrorism is largely a crock as organized crime that kills far more and steals and widely destroys families are not targeted or eliminated.

    In fact evidence continues to evolve year in year out that central state spy agencies often are aligned and use the organized criminal networks, as their agents, and are involved in massive drug smuggling, distribution and sale, as well as, money laundering and tax evation of the super rich.

  3. Anonymous
    14th March 2014

    So when does Joe Sheeple wake up and demand action over this? It would be nice to see the law changed so their activities are no longer legal; the police could then raid the ‘doughnut’ and arrest everyone including those who try to impede their investigation.

    But nope, we have a dumb population that simply doesn’t care and wonder why emigration is at an all time high; All the sensible folk know the country is dying from political apathy.

  4. Enemies of the Internet 2014: entities at the heart of censorship and surveillance | ActivistPoster
    15th March 2014

    […] GCHQ: Enemy of the Internet? (bigbrotherwatch.org.uk) […]

  5. Soheil
    19th March 2014

    I strongly believe, it’s not only the GCHQ but also the NSA are doing same malpractices in collaboration to surveillance and espionage inside Britain and even all over the world. Of course it merely the governments own interests and nothing to the public welfare!