Thomas Hughes Executive Director of ARTICLE19 said:
“While the intelligence and security committee’s (ISC) recognition that the law governing the intelligence agencies must be more transparent is welcome, any fresh legislation must not be simply a rewrite of existing practices of the intelligence agencies. The report also fails to acknowledge the fundamental point that mass collection is a disproportionate intrusion into people’s privacy and should not be authorised by a Minister.
“It is ludicrous that the ISC have claimed that the ‘bulk collection’ of communication data does not amount to mass surveillance. We know that whole populations are subject to scrutiny of their most private conversations and online activities. It’s time to stop repeating the same tired argument that the mass collection of communications is necessary so you can find ‘the needle in the haystack’. It’s disproportionate to target a whole population without reasonable suspicion.
“Finally, the ISC is misguided when it says that a Minister is better placed to authorise surveillance than a judge. Legal judgements must be kept separate from political manoeuvring. We’ve long called for stronger oversight and accountability. However from the report it seems that the ISC is more a cheerleader for the intelligences agencies rather than the watchdog we really need.”