May 19, 2013
Cameron defends UK gov't surveillance, spy plans
The move is condemned even by some within Cameron's Conservative Party and labelled by critics as a "snooper's charter". The Prime Minister said his job was to do "everything that is necessary" to keep the country safe.
"It is the job of the Prime Minister to make sure that we do everything that is necessary to keep our country safe, particularly to keep our country safe from serious and organised crime and also from terrorist threats that we have faced in this country, that we still face in this country,” he justifies.
The government says it is introducing the measures for the security services to be able to keep up with new communication technologies, and insists the plan will not give it powers to access the contents of phone calls and emails without a warrant.
"As I see it, there are some significant gaps in our defences, gaps because of the moving on of technology - people making telephone calls through the internet, rather than through fixed line - but also gaps in our defences because it isn't currently possible to use intelligence information in a court of law without sometimes endangering national security,” Cameron explained.
"I want us - and the Government wants us - to plug those gaps but let's be clear, we will do it in a way that properly respects civil liberties."
Currently, British agencies can monitor calls and emails of specific individuals who may be under investigation, after obtaining ministerial approval. The new powers are expected to extend that remit to all Britons.
Senior Conservative lawmaker and former party leadership candidate David Davis said that was "unmitigated nonsense".
He warned that data caches as envisaged by the government were open to being hacked, giving the example of recent data breaches at Sony and Microsoft, and also warned of the risk that government could use the data to hunt down whistleblowers.
"What you're creating is this enormous, high-reward, effectively easy-to-hack-into database, which would be very useful to lots of people," Davis told reporters.
The government already requires phone operators to store some data on phone usage, but the new proposed powers are expected to cover more recent technologies such as internet voice traffic, the video calling service Skype and the social network site Facebook.