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Government 'snooping' should have conditions

A new report says the government must base their plans to access private email and online correspondence on the following principles:

  • There must be sufficient, sustainable cause
  • There must be integrity of motive
  • The methods must be proportionate and necessary
  • There must be right authority, validated by external oversight
  • It should be a last resort
  • There must be reasonable prospect of success

Surveillance reform is needed, but must be lawful, says report

A new report by Demos on the proposed expansions to the government's power to access our emails and online correspondence, has said there needs to be an "ethical" way by which the government can use online information.

Sir David Omand, co-author of the report said:

I don't know anyone who would say that you should ring-fence social media and say 'that's a secret space where paedophiles, criminals and terrorists can happily play because you can't get at it'

– Sir David Omand

But that this had to be balanced with an " open" internet that promotes the "free exchange of ideas", and that was good for the UK economy and in the public interest. He said the new plans must be based on:

on respect for human rights and the associated principles of accountability, proportionality and necessity".

– Sir David Omand


State surveillance could have 'chilling effect'

The report says it is vital for the monitoring of social media to be legally justified. Credit: ITV News

The government's new 'snooping powers' to be proposed in the Queen's speech need to be legally justified, according to a former Whitehall intelligence chief.

Sir David Omand, former director of the GCHQ electronic listening agency, said it was essential that there was a legal justification for any expansion of the government's power to monitor the personal correspondence of the public.

In a report he co-authored with Demos, he warned no such legal argument had been made and warned of the "chilling effect" fears of state surveillance could have on the use of social media.


  1. Lucy Manning

PM: 'We must plug the gaps in national security'

The Prime Minister has just given a strong defence of the plans for 'secret courts' and more internet surveillance.

His main point was that as Prime Minister his responsibility was to keep the country safe and therefore plug significant gaps in national security.

David Cameron talked about the issue of 'secret courts' at a news conference today.

There was a little nod to Nick Clegg's concerns with Mr Cameron, saying he would listen to concerns, and protect civil liberties.

But this was the Prime Minister in essence saying it's his job to take the tough decisions and he will do all he can to protect people.

So it's the Prime Minister's strong law and order message against Mr Clegg's civil liberties one.

PM: Coalition to plug the gap in defences

David Cameron insisted there were "significant gaps" in UK security as he defended Government plans to allow all calls, emails, texts and website visits to be monitored.

The Prime Minister said his job was to do "everything that is necessary" to keep the country safe.

Mr Cameron said the coalition would "respect" civil liberties but wanted to "plug the gap" in defences.

'Still far from clear if surveillance plans will make public safer'

Nick Pickles, director of Big Brother Watch, said: "It's welcome that ministers are now addressing the real concerns people have about being spied upon but a whole range of questions remain unanswered.

"We are still discussing proposals for a huge amount of additional monitoring, so the Deputy Prime Minister's assurances of a full and detailed review are extremely welcome.

"It's still far from clear if this scheme is technically possible or if it will make the public any safer."

Clarke: Safeguards will be in place

Justice Secretary Ken Clarke Credit: Reuters

Justice Secretary Ken Clarke told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme: "The proposal is that so far as internet and things are concerned (there will be) the same safeguards which we have lived with for telephones for some time.

"I used to join all these criticisms but the reason we are revising all this is we are trying to get the balance right."

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