OECD Complaint v. BT et al. (Facilitating UK Fibre-Optic Cable Access)
Privacy International made a complaint against six UK-based telecom companies on the grounds that they had permitted GCHQ to access their fibre optic networks, breaching OECD Guidelines.
On 4 November 2013, Privacy International filed formal complaints with the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in the UK against six leading telecommunications companies for providing assistance to British intelligence agency GCHQ in the mass interception of internet and telephone traffic passing through undersea fibre optic cables. The companies complained of were BT, Verizon Enterprise, Vodafone Cable, Viatel, Level 3, and Interoute.
The complaint alleged that the telecom companies had 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 argued 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.
The UK National Contact Point (NCP) forwarded the complaints to the companies named in the complaint for a response. All companies refuted the allegations and insisted they were acting in accordance with the law.
In July 2014, the UK NCP rejected the complaint in its entirety, claiming that the link between the 6 telecom companies and the allegations had not been sufficiently substantiated. Privacy International requested a review of this decision, which was rejected by the UK NCP's Steering Board.