William Hague: Law-abiding Britons have nothing to fear from GCHQ

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The Foreign Secretary will appear before the House of Commons tomorrow to try to allay concerns about the Prism spy scheme which enables the USA’s spy agency to mine data from Facebook and other web companies

Andy McSmith

Sunday, 9 June 2013

The only people with anything to fear from the secret activities of British and US intelligence are terrorists, criminals and spies, William Hague has insisted.

The Foreign Secretary will appear before the House of Commons later today to try to allay concerns about the Prism spy scheme which enables the USA’s spy agency to mine data from Facebook and other internet companies.

While he will offer reassuring words, it is unlikely that Mr Hague will offer MPs much by way of hard information. Interviewed on the BBC today, he refused even to say whether the UK government knew of the existence of Prism before this week. “I can’t confirm or deny in public what Britain knows about and what Britain doesn’t, for obvious reasons,” he said

However, he implied that the week’s revelations had not taken him by surprise, and that any request he will have personally sanctioned any request from British intelligence for information gleaned by using Prism.

He told the BBC’s Andrew Marr programme that he keeps an almost daily oversight over the work of GCHQ, the spy centre in Cheltenham, and that he would not delegate a decision of that importance to any of his junior ministers.

“It provides for intelligence gathering that is authorised, necessary, proportionate and targeted – targeted on what we really need to know. And of course we share a lot of information with the United States. That’s been the case since the Second World War,” he told interviewer, Sophie Raworth.

“The idea that in GCHQ people are sitting working out how to circumvent a UK law with another agency in another country is fanciful. It is nonsense.”

He added: “if you are a law abiding citizen of this country going about your business and your personal life, you have nothing to fear – nothing to fear about the British state or intelligence agencies listening to the contents of your phone calls or anything like that. But if you are a would-be terrorist or the centre of a criminal network or a foreign intelligence agency trying to spy on Britain, you should be worried because that is what we work on and we are on the whole quite good at it.”

Douglas Alexander, the shadow foreign secretary, welcome Mr Hagues’ decision to appear in front of the Commons. “It is vital that the government now reassures people who are rightly concerned about these reports.”

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/william-hague-lawabiding-britons-have-nothing-to-fear-from-gchq-8651013.html#

 



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