MPs urge overhaul of surveillance laws in the wake of Edward Snowden leaks

Legal framework around surveillance too complicated, says Intelligence and Security Committee

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By Sam Faroqui

12 Mar 2015

The laws governing the activities of the UK's intelligence services are insufficiently transparent and should be replaced, MPs have recommended.

An inquiry by the Intelligence and Security Committee found that while there was no evidence to suggest MI5, MI6 or GCHQ had sought to circumvent the law, the existing legal framework was "unnecessarily complicated" and had resulted in a lack of transparency which was "not in the public interest".

The committee is recommending the replacement of the current "piecemeal" legal arrangements with a new Act of Parliament which "must clearly set out the intrusive powers available to the Agencies, the purposes for which they may use them, and the authorisation required before they may do so".

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The MPs were also satisfied that the filtering and selection techniques used by GCHQ for data harvested in bulk meant that "only a tiny fraction of those collected are ever seen by human eyes".

The report has considered whether laws governing surveillance are sufficient for the internet age and "fit for purpose".

The inquiry began in 2013 after US defence contractor Edward Snowden leaked information about intelligence gathering by UK and US agencies.


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