Belfast Telegraph

Friday 25 July 2014

US whistleblower condemns data laws

Prime Minister David Cameron said new data laws need to be rushed through Parliament

The US whistleblower who UK spy chiefs say has put the country at risk through blanket intelligence disclosures has condemned surveillance legislation that will be fast-tracked through Parliament.

Edward Snowden, who is wanted by the American authorities for betraying his country, said the bill, which will maintain the ability of police and security services to access telephone and internet data, "defies belief".

He claimed the legislation is being pushed through without proper scrutiny using fears of terror threats in similar way to laws in the United States were under the Bush administration in 2007.

Snowden, who is hiding out in Moscow, leaked top-secret files to a number of locations, including the Guardian newspaper, revealing details concerning America's National Security Agency (NSA) and UK listening post GCHQ.

He told the Guardian: "I mean we don't have bombs falling. We don't have U-boats in the harbour.

"I mean the NSA could have written this draft," he added.

"They passed it under the same sort of emergency justification. They said we would be at risk. They said companies will no longer cooperate with us. We're losing valuable intelligence that puts the nation at risk."

T he Data Retention and Investigation Powers Bill announced last Thursday will maintain the authorities' existing powers rather than add to them, according to the Government.

It includes measures that ministers say will maintain the balance between security and privacy, including a "poison pill" clause which will terminate the legislation at the end of 2016, forcing the next government to debate and pass a replacement bill.

Labour has agreed to support the bill but civil liberties campaigners warn it is being rushed through without the necessary examination.

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