Brooklyn Journal of International Law

First Page



As part of the U.K.’s electronic surveillance program, the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), started in 1909 to combat German Spies, now collects metadata from both foreigners and its own citizens. Through the express statutory authority of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act of 2000 (RIPA), and a loophole in section 94 of the Telecommunications Act of 1984, the GCHQ collects metadata, which is all of the information that is extrinsic to the actual contents of a communication. The GCHQ can request an authorization from a public authority—a member of its own staff—to collect traffic data, service use information, or subscriber information, either from the relevant communications service provider or through their own interception of traffic. This metadata collection interferes with journalists’ ability to function as the pillar of democratic society that the international community expressly values. Specifically, The U.K government’s statutory scheme is in contravention of the freedom of journalistic expression contained within Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights. This Note argues that the U.K. government must change its legislative, philosophical, and administrative approaches to electronic surveillance to come into comport with European democratic principles.