Home Secretary says that UK is not involved in mass surveillance

United Kingdom’s Home Secretary Theresa May has told the joint committee of the draft Investigatory Powers Bill that the government is not and will not involve in mass surveillance.

Since, mass surveillance involves dealing with large volumes of data, Theresa told to the cross party committee that all this activity may not be feasible on a financial note.

However, May agrees that it will be possible for security services or law enforcement agencies to serve warrants on Coffee Shops, libraries, or small businesses offering Wi-Fi services.

The home secretary made it clear that the government has no plans to change the legal rule about encryption or to require Communication Service Providers to hand over private encryption keys. What this literally means is that when a warrant is issued the internet and phone companies should provide data in form that the law enforcement and security agencies can read it.

But this doesn’t mean that they should also hand over the encryption keys for the data.

During the bill draft, MP Paul Strassburger asked if there was ever a time when bulk powers – including mass interference, hacking computer systems and scooping up data from people who had not committed a crime – were proportionate

Ms. May said that there were times when it was, and the government complied with European Union rules on the matter. She added that the government would not collect all the data all of the time.

To this, Strassburger replied to the committee that former US NSA technical director Bill Binney previously gave evidence that warnings about potential terrorists in data were missed because analysts were busy drowning in large volumes of data.

The home secretary said that bulk communication is sometimes the only means to obtain data, but it was not collected “in an untargeted way”.

“You can’t look for the needle in the haystack unless you’ve got the haystack,” she said.

When Strassburger mentioned the word Mass surveillance in his further conversation, Theresa May corrected him by saying that UK doesn’t take up Mass Surveillance and will not do it in future.

May’s silence on the issue of Lawyers and Journalists being exempted from surveillance law indirectly gives us a hint that their activities will also be monitored on a complete note.

May said she aimed to be transparent about the fact that people had safeguards.

She said it would be up to judicial commissioners to decide how they approached any particular issues in reviewing a secretary of state’s decision to issue a surveillance warrant – a principle known as the ‘Double Lock’- means need executive and judicial authorization.

She said the whole point of the double lock is both parties need to agree for warrants to be applied, but the double lock would not apply to issues of national security.

More details will be updated shortly!

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