A Liberal Democrat peer today called on the Home Affairs Select Committee to launch an urgent investigation into whether the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act is being abused to allow the state to snoop on its citizens’ private lives.
Lord Strasburger has written to the committee’s chair, Keith Vaz, following recent revelations about a UK project known as Tempora which suggests that GCHQ is already recording every piece of data passing through parts of the internet.
He said it appeared that Project Tempora may have been authorised under the Regulation of Powers Act (RIPA) using a loophole which was identified but not fixed during its passage through Parliament.
Lord Strasburger said: “The clear intention of Parliament was that intrusive surveillance into the private lives of citizens should only happen to criminals and those reasonably suspected of being criminals.
“If in fact RIPA is being misused to authorise wholesale untargeted surveillance of every citizen, treating us all as suspects, then Parliament’s will has been usurped by faceless and unaccountable officials.
“The Intelligence and Security Committee is investigating Snowden’s allegations and a claim has been submitted to the Investigatory Powers Tribunal.
“However, both of these bodies have a poor track record in terms of holding the security services to account and both work in secret.”
What was urgently needed, he said was “a public investigation into whether RIPA is being abused by over-zealous securocrats and an open and reasoned debate about the limits of the state’s intrusion into its citizens’ private lives”.
He added: “If there is any truth in this whistleblower’s revelations, it means that GCHQ is guilty of industrial scale looting of all our private information completely contrary to the will of Parliament.”
Published and promoted by Tim Gordon on behalf of the Liberal Democrats, both at LDHQ, 8-10 Great George Street, London, SW1P 3AE.