The Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) report has said that the legal framework surrounding UK surveillance is “unnecessarily complicated” and “lacks transparency”.
In a scathing report, the UK Parliamentary committee who were tasked with investigating the impact of intelligence gathering on people’s right to privacy, said that a single law is needed to govern access to private communications by UK agencies.
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BBC News reports:
Meanwhile, official regulators revealed a case last year when a GCHQ employee was sacked over unauthorised searches.
The Interception of Communications Commissioner’s Office (IOCCO) report said it was the first known instance of deliberate abuse of GCHQ’s interception and communications data systems in this way.
The ISC inquiry began after leaks in 2013 about surveillance by US and UK agencies.
Edward Snowden, a former US intelligence contractor, who now lives in Russia after fleeing the US, gave the media details of extensive internet and phone surveillance.
‘Patterns and associations’
BBC security correspondent Gordon Corera said Mr Snowden’s revelations raised concerns in some quarters that spies had accrued too much power in secret.
The committee’s report looked at whether current legislation provides the necessary powers, what the privacy implications are and whether there is sufficient oversight and accountability.
Following its publication, Shami Chakrabarti, director of rights campaign group Liberty, said the ISC was “a simple mouthpiece for the spooks”.
Among its findings, the report said that the UK’s intelligence and security agencies “do not seek to circumvent the law” and that its activities do not equate to “blanket surveillance” or “indiscriminate surveillance”.