Report Says UK Citizens Must Give Up Right To Privacy Because ‘Terrorism’, Reveals Huge Secret Government Databases
As Techdirt has noted previously, the UK body nominally responsible for overseeing the intelligence services, the Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament (ISC), does little more than rubber-stamp what has taken place. The new ISC report “Privacy and Security: A modern and transparent legal framework” (pdf) is more of the same. Here is its own summary of the findings:
The UK’s intelligence and security Agencies do not seek to circumvent the law.
However, the legal framework is unnecessarily complicated and — crucially — lacks transparency.
Our key recommendation therefore is that all the current legislation governing the intrusive capabilities of the security and intelligence Agencies be replaced by a new, single Act of Parliament.
And that’s it: basically, the ISC is saying that all that is needed is a bit of a legal tidying-up. In terms of more detailed recommendations, the report suggests that the abuse of interception powers should be made a criminal offense — currently it isn’t — and that a new category of metadata called “Communications Data Plus”, which includes things like Web addresses, needs slightly greater protection than “traditional” telephone metadata.
The heart of the report’s failure can be found in its discussion of bulk surveillance:
Our Inquiry has shown that the Agencies do not have the legal authority, the resources, the technical capability, or the desire to intercept every communication of British citizens, or of the internet as a whole: GCHQ are not reading the emails of everyone in the UK.
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