Internet Service Providers (ISPs) from the UK, US, South Korea, and Netherlands have filed a legal complaint against UK spy agency GCHQ for exploiting their network infrastructure to snoop on user conversations.
Working with Privacy International the seven ISPs are Riseup (US), GreenNet (UK), Greenhost (Netherlands), Mango (Zimbabwe), Jinbonet (Korea), May First/People Link (US), and the Chaos Computer Club (Germany).
The case has been filed with the Investigatory Powers Tribunal claiming that the exploitation of their network infrastructure is not only illegal, but also undermines their goodwill.
Privacy International deputy director Eric King said, "These widespread attacks on providers and collectives undermine the trust we all place on the internet and greatly endangers the world's most powerful tool for democracy and free expression."
"It completely cripples our confidence in the internet economy and threatens the rights of all those who use it. These unlawful activities, run jointly by GCHQ and the NSA, must come to an end immediately."
The collective legal action follows two other cases filed by Privacy International after the Snowden revelations including one case against the mass surveillance programmes TEMPORA, PRISM and UPSTREAM, and the case against deployment of spyware by GCHQ.
Cedric Knight of GreenNet said, "Snowden's revelations have exposed GCHQ's view that independent operators like GreenNet are legitimate targets for internet surveillance, so we could be unknowingly used to collect data on our users."
"Our entire modus operandi is threatened by this illegal and intrusive mass surveillance."
However, GCHQ maintains that it carried out the programme "in accordance with a strict legal and policy framework which ensures that our activities are authorised, necessary and proportionate".