Theresa May wants even more surveillance powers (Wired UK)

UK Home Office / CC BY 2.0



Home secretary Theresa May has claimed that
the UK is not a ‘surveillance state’
while simultaneously
asking for greater surveillance powers.

In a speech at the Lord Mayor’s Defence and Security Lecture at
Mansion House, in the City of London, May said: “There is no
programme of mass surveillance and there is no surveillance state.”
She added: “Some people have alleged that GCHQ is exploiting a
technical loophole in legislation that allows them to intercept
external communications — that is, communications either sent or
received outside the UK — at will and without authorisation. This
is… nonsense.”

That comes in stark contrast to a recent statement made by the director general of the Office
for Security and Counter Terrorism Charles Farr, who pointed to
Section 8(4) and (5) of the Regulation
of Investigatory Powers Act 2000
 which specifically allows
“external” communications data, i.e. data sent or received outside
of the UK, to be surveilled en masse without regulation.

May also denied that Britain’s security services are able to ask
“their counterparts overseas to undertake activity that would be
unlawful if they conducted it themselves” [so what’s going on with
the Five Eyes
partnership, then
?], and added that surveillance powers were
only ever used “when they are necessary and proportionate”.
However, she declined to provide any details of plots thwarted by
the security services, saying it would be “cavalier and reckless”
to do so.

Meanwhile, May is simultaneously
 for greater surveillance powers to be handed to
the police and security services. She said: “The terrorist threats
to this country and our interests are changing faster than at any
time since 9/11” and added that Skype and Facetime, as well as
social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, have
become “safe havens” for terrorists and organised criminals.

She said that it was “quite simply a question of life and death,
a matter of national security”, that powers to access these sites
were granted. A proposal to do so, dubbed the Snooper’s Charter, was blocked by deputy prime minister Nick
Clegg in 2013.



She added: “I know some people like the thought that the
internet should become a libertarian paradise, but that will entail
complete freedom not just for law-abiding people but for terrorists
and criminals. I do not believe that is what the public wants.”

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