Liblink: Nick Clegg – security oversight must be fit for the internet age

nick clegg pondersNick Clegg writes today in the Guardian under the headline: ‘Edward Snowden’s revelations made it clear: security oversight must be fit for the internet age.’

Until this week, the revelations published by the Guardian about the nature and extent of internet surveillance had provoked little reaction from British politicians. The quality of the debate in the US provides an unflattering contrast to the muted debate this side of the Atlantic.

Some of the revelations have described far-reaching intelligence-gathering capabilities. There are questions of principle here that require answers. Are such capabilities necessary and proportionate? Does the benefit to national security clearly outweigh the infringement of privacy? Are there proper checks and balances to guard against abuse? To ask these questions is not to question the good faith of those who work for the agencies. I have had the privilege of working with all three security services, and have nothing but praise for their professionalism.

I don’t doubt that they comply with the legal framework set for them by parliament. The issue is whether the rules we have set are fit for the internet age.

After discussing how the agencies currently work he concludes:

The intelligence and security committee needs reform – it is widely seen as being too deferential to the bodies it scrutinises. The coalition has recently given the committee more powers and resources, but we should go further. The membership of the committee should be expanded from nine to 11, to match the standard size of select committees.

The chair should in future be an opposition party member, to avoid accusations that the committee is too cosy with the government of the day. Hearings should be held wherever possible in public. Budgets should be set for five years ahead, to allow it the stability to plan a long-term work programme.

Finally, we should create an inspector general for the UK intelligence services, with reinforced powers, remit and resources. This would bring together two existing offices, the interception of communications commissioner, and the intelligence services commissioner.

You can read the full article here.

Update

This morning Nick gave  a speech on the same subject to the Royal United Services Institute . You can read the full text of his speech here.

* Mary Reid is a contributing editor on Lib Dem Voice. She was a councillor in Kingston upon Thames, where she is still very active with the local party, and is the Hon President of Kingston Lib Dems.

Read more by or more about , or .
This entry was posted in LibLink.
Advert

2 Comments

  • But…he’s got no agreement from the Tories. A bit like the campaign to review drugs laws, or Trident replacement. Words, words, words.

    I thought that the plus side of being in Government is that we get our priorities implemented, not just talked about? Any opposition leader can make a fancy speech, and I’ve no doubt Nick would have done something similiar outside government.

    Come on parliamentary team – we’re punching below our weight at the moment.

Post a Comment

Lib Dem Voice welcomes comments from everyone but we ask you to be polite, to be on topic and to be who you say you are. You can read our comments policy in full here. Please respect it and all readers of the site.

To have your photo next to your comment please signup your email address with Gravatar.

Your email is never published. Required fields are marked *

*
*
Please complete the name of this site, Liberal Democrat ...?

Advert



Recent Comments

  • Brad Barrows
    Please allow an alternative viewpoint: average female life expectancy is 82.9 years, average male life expectancy is 79 years - that is the real gap that we sho...
  • Lorenzo Cherin
    I love a bit of Shakespeare, as a performer, of course. But as a viewer, Kenneth Williams version of Julius Ceaser sums up the pm... "Infamy, infamy, some...
  • Mick Taylor
    Christopher Haigh. Actually the Tories don't always win. In my lifetime the score is Labour 8, Tories 11, coalition 1. That doesn't mean we don't need PR. I wa...
  • Christopher Haigh
    To be a true liberal democracy there must be proportional representation. The UK fits into the managed democracy category where we go through the motions of fre...
  • Brad Barrows
    Where I disagree with the proposals is that I believe a Federal Party should elect the majority of its members by, and as representatives of, the individual par...