The complaint alleges that the telecom companies facilitated mass interception of internet and telephone traffic by granting the UKs Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) access to their fibre optic networks for the Tempora surveillance program. Privacy International argues that by collaborating with GCHQ and providing access to the networks, the companies knowingly enabled the mass and indiscriminate collection of data and interception of communications and thus contributed to the violation of human rights, including the right to privacy and freedom of expression.

Relevant OECD Guidelines


The UK NCP forwarded the complaints to the companies named in the complaint for a response. All companies refuted the allegations and insist they are acting in accordance with the law.

In July 2014 the UK NCP rejected the complaint in its entirety, claiming that the complainant had not substantiated the link between the 6 telecom companies and the allegations.

The NCP opined that reports based on documents provided by Edward Snowden and published by the Guardian and Süddeutsche Zeitung do not substantiate a sufficient link between the companies and mass surveillance. The publication of the initial assessment was delayed to October 2014 to await the UK NCP’s Steering Board decision on the complainant’s request for a review of the NCP’s procedure in handling the complaint. The Steering Board declined to review the case and allowed the initial assessment to be made public.

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