The ISC has today made a statement on it’s investigation into PRISM, following the revelations made by whistleblower Edward Snowden.
While it appears the investigation was limited to PRISM, as opposed to Tempora or any of the other programmes we now know to be operational, it reaffirms that the statutory basis for PRISM at least is the 1994 Intelligence Services Act.
Of particular significance is paragraph six:
“Although we have concluded that GCHQ has not circumvented or attempted to circumvent UK law, it is proper to consider further whether the current statutory framework governing access to private communications remains adequate.”
Nick Pickles, director of privacy and civil liberties campaign group Big Brother Watch, said: “If the law is not fit for purpose, the question of not breaking it is largely irrelevant. These laws were written when the internet was unknown to the majority of people and was far from the minds of the Parliamentarians who drafted the laws GCHQ is now bound by many years on.
“When the Intelligence and Security Committee is raising concerns that the current legal framework is adequate, alarm bells should be ringing loud and clear that all is not well. Parliament must urgently turn its attention to this issue.
“I am deeply concerned that this investigation appears to have focused on only one of several programmes we now know to be operational, particularly the storage of the content of communications as they leave the UK. We are still a long way from getting to the bottom of what has been happening.”