Bulk data harvesting essential to counter terrorism, according to report

Snooper's Charter powers ok-ed by review board

A review into terror legislation has ruled that Britain's spy agencies should be free to collect vast amounts of personal data, calling it vital to counter-terrorism.

David Anderson QC carried out the independent review of four of the powers contained in the Investigatory Powers Bill, known also as the Snooper's Charter, concerning the bulk interception, bulk equipment interference, bulk personal datasets and acquisition of information by MI5, MI6 and GCHQ.

Anderson concluded there was "generally not a viable alternative to bulk interception for overseas operations" and that an individual's right to privacy may be overridden "in the interests of national security, safety and the prevention of disorder or crime".

The techniques deployed by the agencies had been used to counter the child sexual exploitation, counter-terrorism and cyber defence.

Prime Minister Theresa May, in her previous role as home secretary, drafted the Communications Data Bill - also informally known as the Snoopers Charter.

The Investigatory Powers Bill was announced in November 2015, containing fewer "contentious" powers than the previous bill, according to May.

Jonathan Parker-Bray, founder and chief executive of Pryvate encryption app, said the government had ignored the UK cyber security industry's stance, which has stated that any weakening of encryption would stand to dramatically affect its ability to do business on a global scale.

Yet, he acknowledges, such a weakening would be necessary to undertake the level of bulk data harvesting the intelligence services are demanding.

"The important thing to underline is that a balance needs to be struck here, the Government does need tools to fight cybercrime and criminals who use mobile devices to communicate in the digital age and normal citizens and businesses have the right to private communications," he said.

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