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Time to plug the UK security gap: why there is a need to widen surveillance on electronic communications data

Lowe, D (2015) Time to plug the UK security gap: why there is a need to widen surveillance on electronic communications data. In: TRANSNATIONAL SECURITY AND HUMAN RIGHTS, 02 July 2015, University of Central Lancashire.

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Abstract

This paper examines whether there is a need for the UK to introduce legislation regarding further surveillance powers for the intelligence and policing agencies to conduct surveillance on electronic communications data. Both legally and politically t is a controversial issue. One side of the debate argues the need for such powers in order to assist the intelligence and policing agencies in their investigations, especially in relation to preventing acts of terrorism occurring to keep citizens safe from such attacks. The other side of the debate raises serious concerns of rights to privacy and data protection with the main issue being on the lack of sufficient safeguards against abuses by the agencies in their acquisition and retention of communications data. By looking at the current terrorist threat facing the EU (which includes the UK) focusing mainly on the threat the terrorist group Islamic State pose considerations are given to both sides of the debate. This includes an examination in how Islamic State use electronic communications, especially its social media sources by using the example of their use of Twitter and issues surrounding the difficulty policing agencies are having in monitoring this group’s activities on communications sources. By having such agencies monitoring electronic communications use raises concerns over the surveillance society, a concern that was exacerbated by the former US National Security Agency (NSA), Edward Snowden’s revelations in how, why and what the NSA was monitoring and its relationship with the UK’s intelligence agency, General Communications Headquarters (GCHQ). By looking at what communications is subject to the requests for wider surveillance this paper will examine the current legislative provisions authorising surveillance by the intelligence and policing agencies surveillance of electronic communications. This includes an analysis of the findings of the European Union’s court, the European Court of Justice’s (ECJ) decision in the Digital Rights case where after deciding that the EU’s legislative provisions on data protection were insufficient resulted in the UK introducing the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act 2014 that allows intelligence and policing agencies to request from communications providers electronic communications data related to their investigations. With the 2014 Act having a sunset clause expiring in December 2016 and taking into account recent Parliamentary reports, it is examined if there is a need for a new legislation in the UK that codifies al the current legislation governing the surveillance of electronic communications. This looks more likely as the Queen’s Speech in May 2015 revealed an Investigatory Powers Bill will be introduced during the 2015/16 Parliament. The position submitted here is that new legislation is needed as wider powers are required to allow the intelligence and policing agencies the ability to monitor terrorist group’s increasing sophisticated and wide use of electronic communications, provided there are sufficient safeguards related to data protection. Those safeguards can only be truly secured via judicial supervision in granting the respective authorities to the intelligence and policing agencies. Underpinning this submission is that due to the international nature of the terrorist threat facing national states and the use by terrorist groups of communications, we have moved to an era where intelligence in no longer on a ‘need to know’ basis to one where it is a ‘need to share’. This includes obtaining the co-operation of internet and communications service providers.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare. Criminology
K Law > KD England and Wales
Q Science > QA Mathematics > QA76 Computer software
Divisions: School of Law
Publisher: UCLAN
Date Deposited: 29 Jul 2015 07:27
Last Modified: 25 May 2016 10:49
URI: http://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/1680

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