Elham Asaad Buaras
A review commissioned by former Deputy PM Nick Clegg into the UK’s surveillance programs has called for a fresh examination into the law for interception of communications in the UK.
Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) Independent Surveillance Review said obsolete laws will neither keep the public safe nor ensure privacy of individuals.
Its panel included former heads of three UK intelligence agencies MI5, MI6 and the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) .
On July 14, RUSI published its recommendation that a senior judge must authorise requests for interception to prevent and detect serious crimes in the future, and that warrants signed by Secretaries of State for national security should be subject to judicial investigation.
The panel (which was set up following disclosures made by former US security agency contractor Edward Snowden in 2013) added that any new law should have to pass ten tests like proportionality, transparency, effective oversight, minimal secrecy, before being agreed.
The Chair of the panel Michael Clarke said: “We have outlined ten tests that people in Britain should apply when they hear what the Government proposes. If Government proposals genuinely meet these criteria, the new legislation will be able to address justifiable public concerns, and also allow the police and intelligence agencies to get on with their job.”
The ruling comes only a week after Amnesty International recently learned that GCHQ had intercepted, stored and accessed its communications during an unspecified period, according to an email the human rights group received.
The email, from the UK’s Investigatory Powers Tribunal, revealed that Amnesty International and the Legal Resources Centre in South Africa were targeted by the GCHQ.
In a statement to The Muslim News Legal Programme Director at Amnesty UK, Rachel Logan, said: “Just last week it turned out UK snoops had been spying on Amnesty’s private communication and had stored that information for longer than they were legally allowed, and the tribunal couldn’t even get the name of the victim right in the finding.”
“Proper judicial oversight of surveillance in the UK is not only obviously necessary – it’s long overdue. We’re disappointed to see the Panel haven’t gone far enough towards this. We need confidence in who’s watching the watchmen.”