Charles Farr, the United Kingdom’s top security official, has published a justification for the GCHQ’s data collection program that was revealed by Edward Snowden’s leaks. The program collects emails and posts on sites like Facebook and Twitter, yet the GCHQ doesn’t use specific warrants to collect the data. Farr’s justification for the lack of specific warrants is that those communications are “external” and detailed warrants are only ever necessary when dealing with internal communications between British citizens.
The program, which has been called Tempora, monitors Facebook, Twitter, Google, and many other online services. In his 48-page response to claims that the GCHQ is breaking the law by collecting the information without specific warrants, Farr says that the only legal requirement is a “general” warrant that covers anything the GCHQ does. A case has been brought against the country by various privacy groups, so Farr’s statement is also in response to that legal action.
Given the type of response that Farr has given, it is clear to many privacy advocates that the UK’s laws need to be reformed so that they explicitly say what data can be collected without a warrant. Until that happens, the GCHQ seems to be interpreting the current law however it feels like doing so.
Via [The Verge]