SurveillanceApril 29th, 2015
Thank you for contacting me recently regarding surveillance laws and oversight.
I know there is real public concern about this extremely important issue. I believe it is vital that our surveillance laws are proportionate and effective in meeting the ongoing terrorist threat Britain faces and in countering new and growing threats such as cybercrime. It is also crucial, though, that our surveillance powers are matched with effective, transparent and up-to-date oversight.
Labour will always ensure that the police and security agencies have the powers they need to keep us safe, alongside the proper checks and balances to ensure those powers are used proportionately. We recognise that new security threats mean our security agencies need to be able to operate more effectively. For them to do so, we also need stronger safeguards and limits to protect our privacy and sustain confidence in this vital work. However, the existing oversight and legal arrangements are now out of date and there are difficult wider challenges about privacy, data and the private sector, and how we protect British citizens’ interests in a global internet where everyone follows different rules.
This is why Labour pushed for the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation to review the legal framework governing surveillance and set out detailed proposals for reform – looking at both the capabilities and checks and balances that are needed. In government we will examine the findings of this review and take the necessary action to update our response and keep the country safe. Labour will also ensure that where interventions are needed to protect collective security they will only be those that are necessary and proportionate to the problem.
I welcome that there is a growing debate about how we can make our surveillance laws more effective and subject to proper oversight. A Labour Government will ensure that both our liberty and security are protected and that effective security powers are accompanied by strong checks and balances.
Thank you once again for writing to me and for sharing your views.