Labour Calls for Greater Accountability by British Intelligence Agencies in Speech Addressing Cybercrime

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The UK’s Labour Party is calling for major changes to the legal framework of British intelligence agencies in order to deal with cybercrime issues head on in the wake of Edward Snowden leaks.

According to The Guardian, Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper is expected to argue that the oversight and legal frameworks are out of date and major reforms are needed “to keep up with changing technology.”

Cooper is set to call for an overhaul to strengthen the accountability of intelligence agencies and replace the outdated Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 which governs interception regulation, according to the report.

“The government can’t keep burying its head in the sand and hoping these issues will go away,” Cooper’s speech will say.

Among the issues cited in Cooper’s speech, she will call the growth in online child abuse the most serious. According to Cooper, last year there were 18,887 reports of online child abuse, an increase of 14 percent year-over-year.

Cooper will argue that there needs to be stronger safeguards and limits to protect privacy, and that the government needs “to engage in a serious public debate about these new challenges and the reforms that are needed.”

In her speech, Cooper will argue that British ministers haven’t done their job by simply asserting that British intelligence agencies are abiding by law without going into detail about “what the law does, what the privacy safeguards are, whether the law is still up to date or why the work the agencies do is important.”

Cooper is critical of three commissioners in particular who are resonsible for intercepts, intelligence services and surveillance by public bodies, respectively.

“None of them have made substantial public statements in response to the Snowden leaks. They are responsible for checking whether the agencies are abiding by the law. Yet in the face of allegations that GCHQ was breaking the law they have been silent – neither saying they would investigate, nor providing reassurance,” she will argue.

In the US, the debate is moving on, she will argue, by launching the first version of its cybersecurity framework as a result of an independent review.

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