As MI5’s chief Andrew Parker warns of a tech terror risk, is new electronic surveillance legislation justified?

These problems have been exacerbated by the Snowden leaks (Source: Getty)
Robin Simcox, a research fellow at the Henry Jackson Society, says Yes

The threat posed by terrorism has arguably never been higher. Yet in recent years, UK intelligence agencies have been increasingly unable to access the data needed to protect national security.

T


These problems have been exacerbated by the Snowden leaks, which led to networks going dark, encryption being strengthened, and terrorists changing communication methods.

Communication service providers are increasingly failing to retain or even generate data – an invaluable weapon in fighting crime.

This is an area that urgently needs addressing legislatively.

Meanwhile, those who threaten our security use the same communications networks as everyone else.

They can do so because, post-Snowden, sophisticated encryption that criminals would once have had to seek out now often comes as standard in such services.

Government and tech firms must work together to keep networks secure for regular citizens while still being able to access the communications of terrorists.

Tom Slater, deputy editor of Spiked, says No

Andrew Parker’s calls for beefed-up surveillance powers should make anyone with a liberal bone in their body retch.

The “turbo-charged” snooper’s charter, which the government is currently cooking up, would severely limit our right to privacy.

Telecoms companies would have to store vast swathes of our emails, calls and texts and hand them over to the spooks when they come knocking.

At best, this is lazy spying. Rather than MI5 going to the trouble of seeking out specific targets, this would make us all suspects by default.

But it also threatens one of the last private enclaves of modern life.

With CCTV on every corner and background checks a requirement in many professions, there is barely a moment when our actions aren’t watched and our intentions aren’t questioned.

Private exchanges provide one of the few spaces in which we can communicate, interact, or simply be, without the state peering over our shoulder.

We can’t give that up without a fight.

Related articles