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‘A Question of Trust’ Report says clear laws needed to monitor and tackle terrorism

An independent review of legislation to monitor and tackle terrorism has said that clear new laws are needed not least to keep up with fast-paced technology and communication changes. 

David Anderson QC, who independently reviewed terrorism legislation, produced a 300-page report in which he said existing legislation was “fragmented” and “obscure” and in some cases pre-dates most internet based communications. The Anderson Report also said that the UK needed “comprehensive and comprehensible” rules around intrusive powers.

GCHQIn particular, Theresa May wants new laws to help agencies and the police monitor online threats due to the needs “increasingly moving from the physical to the digital.” The Home Secretary accepts that intelligence agencies need to have the right powers amid criticisms that their plans are a “snooper’s charter” which will infringe civil liberties.

The Prime Minister commissioned the report called ‘A Question of Trust’. It is part of plans to modernise what security agencies can do to in order to pursue and capture criminals and terrorists. The Home Secretary said she would study the findings of the Anderson Report.  

Mr. Anderson said: "Modern communications can be used by the unscrupulous for purposes ranging from cyber-attack, terrorism and espionage to fraud, kidnap and child sexual exploitation. He added, "a successful response to these threats depends on entrusting public bodies with the powers they need to identify and follow suspects in a borderless online world. But trust requires verification."

Mr Anderson's report, called A Question Of Trust, was commissioned by the prime minister as part of the government's plans to modernise what types of activity security agencies can capture in their pursuit of criminals and terrorists.

Recommendations

The report stated that each intrusive power must be shown to be necessary and clearly spelled out in law.

  • Security and intelligence agencies should be allowed to continue practising "bulk collection" of intercepted material but that "strict additional safeguards" should be introduced.
  • Judges should authorise requests to intercept communications, greatly limiting the home secretary's current role in deciding which suspect is closely monitored.
  • Proposed "snooper's charter" powers must be subjected to "rigorous assessment" of whether they would be legal or effective.
  • The definition of communications data should be "reviewed, clarified and brought up to date" and supervision of its use should be improved.

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