The report is from the "Intelligence and Security Committee of the UK Parliament "(ISC). The members of the oversight committee are appointed by the Prime Minister. It took for ages for the ISC to even consider some of the material in the Snowden leaks. As well as working the distinction between "bulk collection" and "mass surveillance" the same old saw about just collecting meta-data was brought up. Actual conversations and content of messages are not collected. The head of M15 dismissed the idea of collecting data on the websites people visit as an intrusion on privacy. The type of legislation that the intelligence community would like to see is what might be called a Snooper's Charter, that would not legislate rights for those targeted by surveillance but codify the rights of those doing the spying.
An article in the Intercept describes the redefining of "mass surveillance" as "bulk collection" as follows:
"This re-definition game goes as follows: yes, we vacuum up and store literally as much of the internet as we possibly can. Then we analyze all the data about what you’re doing, with whom you’re speaking, and who your network of associates is. Based on that analysis of all of you and your activities, we then read the communications that we want (with virtually no checks and concealing from you what percentage of it we’re reading), and store as much of the rest of it as technology permits for future trolling. But don’t worry: we’re only reading the Bad People’s emails. So run along then: no mass surveillance here. Just bulk collection! It’s not mass surveillance, but “enhanced collection techniques.” "
A 2000 European Court of Human Rights decision found that Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights was violated by such data collection even if data collected is not reviewed or exploited in any way. The defense had argued that no privacy violation happens if the data is not reviewed or exploited. Another ruling in 2000 was that even storing records of a person's activity in public such as attending demonstrations could be a violation of privacy since “public information can fall within the scope of private life where it is systematically collected and stored in files held by the authorities.”
Another editorial in the Guardian explains that spying can play the part of the guard role that will protect a system that benefits most elites. Information gathered with the supposed purpose of keeping us safe from terrorists will be used to keep opposition forces from threatening "national security" the security of the elites that benefit most from the system.
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Ken is a retired philosophy professor living in the boondocks of Manitoba, Canada, with his Filipina wife. He enjoys reading the news and writing articles. Politically Ken is on the far left of the political spectrum on many issues.
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