Did the NSA spy on you and pass information to GCHQ in the UK? Here's how to find out

Did the NSA spy on you and pass information to GCHQ in the UK?

It is just about impossible to be an internet user without being aware of the surveillance that has been carried out by the NSA; cheers for the tip, Mr Snowden. While it was the NSA's activities that hit the headlines, governments in other countries used -- and continue to use -- similar surveillance techniques and even share information between each other.

We already know that GCHQ believes that online privacy has never been an absolute right, but this does not change the fact that data sharing between the NSA and GCHQ was illegal before December. Now Privacy International, one of the organizations opposed to such spying, has launched a campaign to help people find out if GCHQ illegally received information about them from the NSA.

It does not matter if you are in the UK, people all over the world are invited to put their names forward for Privacy International to take to court and demand to know whether information was illegally received. Signing up is a simple matter of visiting the Privacy International campaign page and enabling the organization to make a data request on your behalf under Article 8 and Article 10 of the European Convention for Human Rights. Make sure you respond to the confirmation email you receive as well.

The campaign's FAQ explains the reasons for the action:

Intelligence agencies' culture of secrecy have allowed them, for too long, to avoid public accountability. Whether it's secret hearings in closed court rooms or committees equipped only with rubber stamps, intelligence agencies like GCHQ have never been forced to answer to the public for their actions.

We think you have a right to know whether you have been caught up in GCHQ and NSA's illegal intelligence sharing. If so, you have a right to demand that data be deleted. Privacy International wants to help you assert those rights.

As the law has now changed it is not possible to determine whether a governmental agency is currently spying on you. All you will be able to determine is whether the NSA gathered information about you and passed it to GCHQ before December 2014. Privacy International admits it could be years before any information is delivered by the courts, but if you are concerned about your privacy it takes very little effort to sign up.

If you feel uncomfortable handing over your details (which amounts to nothing more than your name, email address and phone number) to Privacy International, there's nothing to stop you from putting in a request of your own, but there is strength in numbers.

Photo credit: 360b / Shutterstock

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