Strasbourg, France—The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has accused British Intelligence with a breach of human rights over a mass surveillance operation.

The Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) is Great Britain’s premier intelligence organization.  It is responsible for providing signals intelligence (SIGINT) to and securing the communications of the British government and Armed Forces (the National Security Agency (NSA) would be the U.S. equivalent).

The ECHR has found that the British spooks violated Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which protects individual and family privacy. It is important, however, to note that the ECHR isn’t accusing the GCHQ of eavesdropping, but of not ensuring the security of and access to the gathered data.  Access was not limited to government employees.

According to the European judges, the data “could reveal a great deal about a person’s habit and contacts.”