Open Rights Group has called on the Prime Minister to ensure that the UK is not complicit with human rights abuses if President Trump keeps his promises to reinstate waterboarding and torture.
Executive Director Jim Killock said:
“MPs endorsed bulk data collection when they passed the Investigatory Powers Act last year. Bulk data about UK and other citizens is freely shared with the US.
“Now, we have a US President who has proposed torturing suspects. The UK Government needs to clarify whether data sharing arrangements will continue if the President Trump acts on these comments.
“It is illegal for the UK to share intelligence if it can be used for torture but, given the close integration of the US and UK intelligence agencies, it is difficult to see how the UK could take a moral stand.”
Trump has threatened to use torture, ban Muslims from entering the US, and expand use of the death penalty. It has been reported that he will ban most refugees and suspend visas for people coming from majority-Muslim countries until an extreme vetting process has been put in place.
US/UK intelligence integration
In 2015, ORG published a report into mass surveillance, which outlined the US and UK’s intelligence agencies close integration: “The five eyes countries share raw data from bulk collection, hacking technology and tools for analysis. However, the Snowden leaks give the firm impression that the UK is the partner in the alliance that works the most closely with the US. The NSA and GCHQ have many joint programmes, including a programme for joint experiments to break encryption.” (2)
According to a Guardian report, the US Government paid at least $100 million to GCHQ between 2010-2013. (3) However, the most significant contribution is the sharing of US technologies to enable UK surveillance to take place. In return, the UK shares bulk data that it would be illegal for the US to collect. For example, in the US it was ruled illegal to do full takes of Internet data going in and out of the country. However, it is legal for GCHQ to collect data in this way, which it then shares with the NSA who are free to search and process it.
Members of the public can sign ORG’s petition to the Prime Minister here.