MPs clear GCHQ use of US Prism system as legal

But they will review legislation regarding effect of surveillance on privacy and human rights

GCHQ did not break British laws in the use of the American Prism system to gather information, the Commons intelligence and security committee reported today. But the MPs also stated they would be reviewing the legislations regarding the effect of surveillance on privacy and human rights.

The Committee stated that, contrary to some claims, GCHQ had not circumvented regulations but instead sought information from the National Security Agency in the US only after a warrant signed by a minister had been in place on each occasion as required under the law..

MPs had interviewed the director of the government listening post, Sir Iain Lobban " in detail" and had also travelled to the US to meet officials of the National Security Agency (NSA) and their Congressional counterparts in their inquiry.

Documents examined by the Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC)  had included details of counter-terrorist operations in which GCHQ had sought and obtained intelligence from the US, a list of UK citizens and residents who had been subjected to monitoring as a result of the liaison and lists of mediums, such as e-mails, which were intercepted.

The ISC said in its report: "It has been alleged that GCHQ circumvented UK law by using the NSA's Prism programme to access the content of private communications. From the evidence we have seen, we have concluded that this is unfounded."

However, the Committee, chaired by former foreign secretary Sir Malcolm Rifkind, added:  "it is proper to consider whether the current statutory framework governing access to private communications remains adequate".  It was "examining the complex interaction between the Intelligence Services Act, the Human Rights Act and the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act [Ripa], and the policies and procedures that underpin them, further."

William Hague, the  foreign secretary, said in a statement welcoming the ISC report."I see daily evidence of the integrity and high standards of the men and women of GCHQ.  The ISC's findings are further testament to their professionalism and values".

The controversy over wideranging interception by GCHQ of communications came as the independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, David Anderson QC, said the pattern of recent plots did not involve large networks, but small groups and, often, individual 'lone wolves'.

"The will and capacity to commit 7/7 style atrocities still exist in the United Kingdom, as demonstrated recently by the,

Birmingham rucksack bomb plot. However the bombers' chances of success have diminished with the marked improvement in MI5's coverage since 2005," he said in his annual report.

"Simpler attacks, involving fewer people and less planning, are becoming more common - including against national security targets, as in Northern Ireland - and can be very difficult to detect."

The lethality of such small-scale attacks was underlined by the killing of Fusilier Lee Rigby who was stabbed to death outside Woolwich Barracks in south east London in May. Security officials cast doubts at the time on whether telephone intercepts would have necessarily stopped the killing.Two men have been charged with the soldier's murder.

Mr Anderson had said in an interview earlier today:  "We are certainly not seeing now what we saw in the years around 2005, 2006, which are the large, ambitious, 9/11-style plots perhaps to bring down simultaneously several airliners. What we are seeing is a trend towards lone actors and we are also seeing self-organised plots."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
Lou Reed distorted the truth about his upbringing, and since his death in 2013, biographers and memoirists have added to the myths
musicThe truth about Lou Reed's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths
News
people
News
Ed Miliband received a warm welcome in Chester
election 2015
Life and Style
Apple CEO Tim Cook announces the Apple Watch during an Apple special even
fashionIs the Apple Watch for you? Well, it depends if you want it for the fitness tech, or for the style
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Project Implementation Executive

£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Chiropractic Assistant

£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive - Midlands

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...

Day In a Page

Armenian genocide: To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie

Armenian genocide and the 'good Turks'

To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie
Lou Reed: The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths

'Lou needed care, but what he got was ECT'

The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond
Migrant boat disaster: This human tragedy has been brewing for four years and EU states can't say they were not warned

This human tragedy has been brewing for years

EU states can't say they were not warned
Women's sportswear: From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help

Women's sportswear

From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help
Hillary Clinton's outfits will be as important as her policies in her presidential bid

Clinton's clothes

Like it or not, her outfits will be as important as her policies
NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace