The devil is in the devilly detail – 21 November 2013

On June 10th, the Foreign Secretary said this in Parliament:

“It has been suggested GCHQ uses our partnership with the United States to get around UK law, obtaining information that they cannot legally obtain in the UK. I wish to be absolutely clear that this accusation is baseless. Any data obtained by us from the US involving UK nationals is subject to proper UK statutory controls and safeguards.”

Which was all fine and good. There are not many ‘right thinking people’ who would try to suggest that modern democracies should be free from the ability to use intelligence mechanisms etc to protect their publics and core interests, but with appropriate safeguarding.

But I am left perturbed by how the June statement (both in its literal translation and the spirit of it) tallies with the story in today’s Guardian titled: ‘US and UK struck secret deal to allow NSA to ‘unmask’ Britons’ personal data’.

If anyone is intellectually fleet of foot enough to square these two things away convincingly, answers on a postcard to the normal address.

(Whilst it’s easy to call for public inquiries… I do think this whole topic is lending itself to one. And one in which the questions aren’t necessarily notified in advance… The need for a public dialogue about where the activities sit with public expectation is certainly worthy of exploration. )

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