UK spy chiefs to face MPs over mass surveillance

Heads of MI5, MI6 and GCHQ expected to use committee hearing to condemn NSA leaks and justify scale of operations The three heads of the British intelligence agencies are to make an unprecedented public televised appearance in front of the intelligence and security committee of MPs where they will seek to justify the scale of their surveillance activities. Before the 90-minute hearing on Thursday afternoon, the former head of GCHQ Sir David Omand claimed the effectiveness of the committee itself was as much on show as the spy chiefs themselves. The session, subject to a two-minute TV delay to avoid secrets inadvertently being broadcast, was agreed before news of mass surveillance by the UK and US was leaked by Edward Snowden, the former US National Security Agency contractor. It will feature the head of MI6, Sir John Sawers, his MI5 counterpart, Andrew Parker, and Sir Iain Lobban, head of […] Read More

2013: Surveillance, democracy, transparency – a global view

From internet leaders Tim Berners-Lee and Mark Zuckerberg, to the leaders of Brazil and US national intelligence, Dilma Rousseff and James Clapper, powerful voices in politics, culture and academia are recognising the need for debate on state surveillance The Guardian has been calling for a debate about surveillance by the intelligence agencies since Edward Snowden began leaking files which showed the exponential rise in state snooping capabilities. On Tuesday, the director general of MI5, Andrew Parker, said recent disclosures had harmed Britain’s national security, sparking a wave of criticism – mainly from the tabloid press, rightwing media groups and their commentators. However, significant voices from across the political, cultural and academic spectrum, as well as experts in privacy and security, have acknowledged genuine issues have emerged that need to be discussed. And they have said this discussion is long overdue. Backed by a growing number of British MPs, and congressional […] Read More

2013: The Snowden files: why the British public should be worried about GCHQ

When the Guardian offered John Lanchester access to the GCHQ files, the journalist and novelist was initially unconvinced. But what the papers told him was alarming: that Britain is sliding towards an entirely new kind of surveillance society In August, the editor of the Guardian rang me up and asked if I would spend a week in New York, reading the GCHQ files whose UK copy the Guardian was forced to destroy. His suggestion was that it might be worthwhile to look at the material not from a perspective of making news but from that of a novelist with an interest in the way we live now. I took Alan Rusbridger up on his invitation, after an initial reluctance that was based on two main reasons. The first of them was that I don’t share the instinctive sense felt by many on the left that it is always wrong […] Read More