UK tribunal broadly supports GCHQ surveillance practices after privacy groups bring court case

The Investigatory Powers Tribunal has ruled that intelligence gathering practices used by Britain's GCHQ eavesdropping agency do not constitute a privacy violation.

The five judges Friday rebuffed arguments brought by privacy advocates reacting to U.S. intelligence analyst Edward Snowden's disclosures about widespread data collection by U.S. and U.K. agencies.

The ruling follows hearings this year on the mass harvesting of data. It found that the current practices are "lawful and human rights compliant."

The judges did say questions remain about GCHQ's past surveillance practices.

Privacy advocates say GCHQ policies breach the European Convention on Human Rights. Privacy International said it plans to appeal the decision to the European Court of Human Rights, with deputy director Eric King calling the ruling "a worrying sign for us all."