GCHQ accused of undertaking mass surveillance without parliament's consent: reports
A former cabinet minister has warned that GCHQ could be undertaking mass surveillance without parliament’s consent despite the communications bill not being given the go ahead.
Nick Brown, a former chief whip who sat on the parliamentary committee scrutinising the so-called snooper’s charter, told The Guardian there was an “uncanny” similarity between Cheltenham-based GCHQ’s secret Tempora programme and the first part of the bill.
The bill was shelved earlier this year after opposition from the Liberal Democrats.
American whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed secret files to the Guardian about GCHQ and the National Security Agency (NSA) in the States.
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Mr Brown said: “The similarity between part one of the proposed data communications bill and the events Mr Snowden is describing as already taking place is uncanny.
“It covers the same set of circumstances. The bill was trying to be permissive in that all material could be saved for a year.
“It now looks very much like this is what is happening anyway, with or without parliament’s consent.”
Home secretary Theresa May told the home affairs select committee yesterday there was nothing in the Snowden files that change the case for new laws for surveillance organisations GCHQ, MI5 or MI6.
GCHQ declined to comment.