Sir Malcom Rifkind, the head of UK’s watchdog that overlooks Britain’s intelligence agencies, responded to a comment piece by Simon Jenkins that said that UK had a lack of debate about the incident with Edward Snowden. Rifkind replied that although there were issues that needed to be addressed about how UK’s three intelligence agencies go about collecting information, as long as they operated within the law he would support the agencies. He said that the UK had an “effective and extensive system of independent oversight” of the agencies.
Rifkind did concede that even if the agencies did work within the law, it was okay for the law to be reviewed to see if the safeguards in place were deemed acceptable to prevent the agencies from stepping out of line. Edward Snowden’s information reveal showed to the world that the intelligence agencies do need to be looked at from time to time to prevent them from going to far. Already it was revealed that the GCHQ, one of UK’s intelligence agencies, has broken the encryption used by many people online in order to access their information.
While Rifkind still supported these agencies and their actions, Eric King, head of research at Privacy International, disagreed. He said that Rifkind and his organization were part of the problem, as Rifkind acknowledged that the intelligence agencies had personal information but that the public knows that they don’t look at it so it wasn’t an issue. King said that the public should still be opposed to this and uncomfortable that their information was being taken, and that the agencies have done the exact opposite of what they should have been allowed to do. They took people’s information instead of using their resources to protect the people.
I find it interesting that the international world is speaking out about it. It has been shown that other countries have the same issues with their intelligence agencies, and yet their governments still support them stealing the public’s information. They are attempting to downplay the severity of what has occurred by saying the public knows that they don’t look at their information, but the problem is that they are taking it in the first place. Countries’ disregard of the problem needs to be addressed, as does why the intelligence agencies are still being supported instead of being investigated more.