Two days ago the Intelligence and Security Committee announced that it would look into the legislative framework governing surveillance and the intelligence agencies, a move that signals a positive change in the wake of the Snowden disclosures. The Committee intends to examine the appropriate balance between privacy and national security, and whether there is a need for a broader review of powers currently wielded by the intelligence agencies. It has also agreed to accept written evidence from the public, a decision that constitutes an exception to its standard procedure.
LCHR warmly welcomes the inquiry. What is more, the Committee’s willingness to open up to evidence from the public undoubtedly shows its readiness to engage in an informed and responsible debate.
Meanwhile, the debate on the transparency and accountability of intelligence services has been gathering pace. In his defence of the Guardian published today, Tom Watson calls for a parliamentary debate on mass surveillance, and Tempora in particular. He claims that instead of investigating the newspaper, the Prime Minister should turn his attention to what is possibly one the biggest civil rights violations the UK has seen to date.
The Guardian has been subjected to attacks from the politicians and the media alike, despite its unique contribution to the national debate on the right to privacy. LCHR believes that its journalists have been acting in the public interest, reporting conscientiously on the lack of accountability and oversight, and the possible abuse of power. LCHR continues to support the Guardian’s investigation into this topic, valuing its commitment to civil liberties and freedom of expression.