Britain urged to follow US lead on reforms to government spy agencies
The British government must follow US President Barack Obama's lead and introduce sweeping reforms to government spy agencies after revelations of mass surveillance, an influential member of Parliament has said.
Dominic Raab said that Britain's response so far to the revelations that the US and UK spy agencies were monitoring vast amounts of personal data was "comatose". He urged the government to follow the lead of Obama, who on Friday announced the scrapping of databases holding a record of every call made in the US after acknowledging there was a "potential for abuse".
Labour MP Hazel Blears, who sits on Parliament's intelligence and security committee, admitted that its members knew about a National Security Agency program codenamed Dishfire, which it was revealed last week collected up to 200 million text messages a day globally.
Blear told a BBC show: "I knew and my committee knew that we had the capability to collect metadata. … People … use Skype, e-mail, internet texting, and therefore it's important that the agencies are able to keep up with that technological change within a legal framework."
Writing in The Sunday Times, Conservative Raab argued that the revelations about the operating methods of the NSA and British secret agency Government Communications Headquarters had "shattered old assumptions about the relationship between the citizen and the state". He added: "Reaction in America has brought sweeping reforms. It's high time we in Britain put our own house in order."