The European Court of Human Rights Tuesday said the Bulgarian government’s secret surveillance of citizens violated privacy rights and data retention rules.

The Strasbourg-based court found that “the relevant legislation governing secret surveillance did not meet the quality-of-law requirement” in the European Convention on Human Rights, and the government “was unable to keep surveillance to only that which was necessary,” it said in a statement.

The ECHR also found that “the laws governing retention and accessing communications data did not meet the [same] quality-of-law requirement” and they were “incapable of limiting such retention and accessing to what was strictly necessary.”

Key issues include a lack of judicial oversight over who faced surveillance in Bulgaria and a lack of clear rules around which data could be stored and accessed by security services.

The case was brought by two lawyers and two human rights groups in 2012. Both the plaintiffs and defendants have three months to ask for a final ruling on the case by the court’s Grand Chamber.

The court is part of the human rights-focused Council of Europe, of which all 27 members are members and which includes 47 countries in total.

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