UK emergency data bill: 'The NSA could have written this,' says Edward Snowden

NSA whistleblower compares the emergency legislation to George W. Bush's 'Protect America Act'

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The Independent Tech

Edward Snowden, the former NSA-contractor whose actions revealed the existence of mass surveillance operations in both the UK and US, has spoken out against the UK’s emergency data bill.

Snowden compared the legislation being rushed through parliament with the ‘Protect America Act of 2007’ introduced by former-President George W. Bush that cited the same dangers from terrorism and criminals in order the reason for increased surveillance.

"I mean the NSA could have written this draft," Snowden told The Guardian. "They passed it under the same sort of emergency justification. They said we would be at risk. They said companies will no longer cooperate with us. We're losing valuable intelligence that puts the nation at risk."

Speaking from Moscow where he has been located since seeking asylum in Russia, Snowden describe the UK Government’s attempts to ‘railroad’ through the new data bill as “a significant change,” questioning why the legislation has been introduced after the European Court of Justice declared its surveillance policies illegal in April.

The new data bill was introduced last week by David Cameron and Nick Clegg with cross-party support from Conservative, Lib Dem and Labour leadership, but MPs and privacy campaigners have pointed out that most politicians have not had a chance to examine the bill.

Snowden said: "If these surveillance authorities are so interested, so invasive, the courts are actually saying they violate fundamental rights, do we really want to authorise them on a new, increased and more intrusive scale without any public debate?”

Snowden's comment come as the UK's spying agency GCHQ will face a tribunal brought about by civil liberty groups challenging the legality of its mass surveillance policies.

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