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UK Spies Want Even More Surveillance

17.09.2015 15:56

The head of Britain's intelligence service, MI5, Andrew Parker, has called for more up-to-date powers to counter the terror threat and said that Internet and telecom firms had an "ethical responsibility" to co-operate.

Andrew Parker was giving the first ever live radio interview by an incumbent head of MI5 since it was formed in 1909. It is being seen as a sign of greater transparency, following the revelations by ex-CIA contractor Edward Snowden that the UK's intelligence service were co-operating with the US National Security Agency (NSA) in mass surveillance.

There was outrage when Snowden revealed in 2013 that the NSA was tapping internet data globally under a program called PRISM and that the UK's surveillance agency, GCHQ, had access to it under a program called Project Tempora, both of which involved extensive mass data-mining of Internet and telecom systems.

The outrage led to the heads of the three UK intelligence services MI5, MI6 and GCHQ being hauled before parliament to explain themselves and finally, to an independent review by David Anderson QC that concluded that Britain's surveillance laws were: "Undemocratic, unnecessary and — in the long run — intolerable."

Parker told the Today radio program on the BBC that the threat of terrorism in the UK was already officially classified as 'Severe' and that the country was even more at risk because of the crisis in the Middle East.

"Because of that threat we face, the way the terrorists operate and the way the we all live our lives today, it's necessary that — if are to find and stop the people who mean us harm — MI5 and others need to be able to navigate the internet to find terrorist communication."

"We need to be able to use data sets so we can join the dots so we can find and stop the terrorists who mean us harm before they are able to bring plots to fruition," he said.

In recent years, he said the intelligence services and the police had been "pretty successful" in recent years but that it was becoming more and more difficult as technology changes faster and faster.