A major review has stated that since the Ed Snowden leaks, an overhaul of the snooping laws that Britain’s spy agencies and the GCHQ abide to is needed. A parliamentary watchdog has said that the intelligence agency does not have the authority to collect and read emails belonging to members of the public.
The 18 month review began after revelations from Edward Snowden, a former CIA contractor, on the surveillance tactics of the GCHQ and the US National Security Agency were made public. The Intelligence and Security Committee found that even though GCHQ, M15 and M16 do not use mass indiscriminate surveillance, the laws that govern their activities need to be overhauled to be made much more transparent.
The ISC report is the first report that provides details on the different methods and tactics used by Britain’s spy agencies. It states that although the agencies do intercept bulk communications, they do not carry out blanket surveillance tactics on the public. Due to the way that all collected data is filtered to find a specific target, only a tiny proportion of all information collected is ever actually seen by a human being.
Although this may be the case, the current laws surrounding the spy agencies are overcomplicated, and need to be much more transparent. The report calls for a new, single Act of Parliament to govern the intrusive capabilities of the spy agencies, rather than the various legislations that are currently used. The report also found that the growth of the internet has led to an increase of tension when it comes to the issue of privacy.