GCHQ revelations show Britain needs a parliamentary inquiry into mass surveillance

Member of Parliament Tom Watson writes: Spymasters past and present have been busy of late condemning Edward Snowden and the Guardian. The “most catastrophic loss to British intelligence ever” is how Sir David Omand described the whistleblower’s leaks of confidential data.

The MI5 chief, Andrew Parker, stopped short of a direct attack on the Guardian for exposing GCHQ’s data surveillance programme Tempora, but his speech claimed that publishing such information gives terrorists the ability “to strike at will”.

Even some sections of the media have taken the side of the spooks. The Daily Mail said the Guardian had shown a “lethal irresponsibility”. Now the police have been asked by Tory MP Julian Smith to investigate the Guardian, while Liam Fox has successfully called on parliament to do the same with the support of the prime minister.

In truth, the Guardian is under attack for carrying out its public duty. It acted courageously, in the public interest, to uncover and reveal a government programme that has gained access to the private communications of millions of individuals. Tempora has been mining our internet communications data, en masse, without public knowledge or any kind of public debate. So the newspaper should be thanked for bringing this to our attention so that we can now have a proper conversation about whether mass surveillance is necessary and proportionate in the fight against terrorism. [Continue reading…]

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