Bulk personal datasets

The ISC’s Report of March 12, 2015 revealed that in addition to intercepting communications, the intelligence and security services acquire, share, and link together “Bulk Personal Datasets “containing personal information about a wide range of people,” and including hundreds to millions of records. Continue reading Bulk personal datasets

Communications Data

RIPA accords “Communications Data (CD),” defined “as the basic ‘who, when, and where’ of a communication” less protection than the contents of communications. Claiming that “the statutory definition of Communications Data … is narrowly drawn,” the ISC’s March 12, 2015 Report dismissed concerns that modern technology makes it as intrusive to collect and examine CD as communications themselves. Continue reading Communications Data

The distinction between external and internal communications

The ISC’s March 12, 2015 Report recognized that the lack of correspondence between the routing of internet communications and geographical boundaries creates problems for RIPA’s distinction between “internal” and “external” communications. Continue reading The distinction between external and internal communications

Bulk interception

Seeking to assuage concerns about mass surveillance, the ISC Report of March 12, 2015 reasoned that although talk of “bulk interception” was justified by the numbers of communications intercepted, the GCHQ in fact engaged in targeted surveillance. First, the GCHQ has the technical capacity to access only a “small percentage [redacted]” of the 100,000 bearers comprising “the core infrastructure of the internet,” and at any one time accesses “only a fraction” of the bearers that it is capable of accessing.  Continue reading Bulk interception

Legal framework conclusions

On March 12, 2015, the ISC concluded its investigation by issuing a report, “Privacy and Security: A modern and transparent legal framework,” that “scrutinised GCHQ’s bulk interception capability in particular detail, since it is this that has been the focus of recent controversy.” 

Continue reading Legal framework conclusions

Broadening of the ISCs Investigation

On October 17, 2013, the ISC announced that it was broadening its inquiry to consider “whether the current statutory framework governing access to private communications remains adequate.” The heads of MI5, MI6, and GCHQ appeared before the ISC for the first time in an open evidence session on November 7, 2013.

On December 11, 2013, the ISC invited the submission of written evidence. Among those submitting written evidence were: Liberty; Lecturer in Information Technology, Intellectual Property and Media Law at the UEA Law School Paul Bernal; independent advocate Caspar Bowen; Liberal Democratic peer Lord Paul Strasburger; the Institution of Engineering and Technologya group of University College law students consisting of Daniella Lock, Tara Agoston, Hitesh Dhorajiwala, Josie Teale, Edmund Gross, Edmund Robinson, Aimee Riese and Maryam Siddiqui, and Rights Watch (UK).

The ISC held public evidence sessions on October 14, 15, 16, and 23, 2014. Those who provided oral evidence are listed in the ISC’s Report of March 12, 2015, at pp. 147-49.