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William Hague says we can’t do without PRISM

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Wed Jun 26 2013, 10:26
Foreign secretary William Hague

UK FOREIGN SECRETARY William Hague has told people in the US that information sharing between our countries is much needed.

Hague was speaking in Los Angeles, the BBC reported, when the topic turned to snooping and sharing. He was happy to talk about how grand it is.

"We should have nothing but pride in the unique and indispensable intelligence-sharing relationship between Britain and the United States. In recent weeks this has been a subject of some discussion," he said.

"Let us be clear about it - in both our countries intelligence work takes place within a strong legal framework. We operate under the rule of law and are accountable for it. In some countries secret intelligence is used to control their people - in ours, it only exists to protect their freedoms."

People are not really buying that, and in the UK the civil rights group Liberty has filed a legal complaint against GCHQ, the UK government's centralised intelligence agency.

GCHQ has issued a statement about PRISM, and it too said that it operates within a "strict" framework.

"All GCHQ's work is carried out in accordance with a strict legal and policy framework which ensures that its activities are authorised, necessary and proportionate, and that there is rigorous oversight, including from the Secretary of State, the Interception and Intelligence Services Commissioners and the Intelligence and Security Committee," said a spokesperson.

In Germany the the glare of PRISM has not created any rainbows, and in an op-ed in Spiegel Online this month German Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger called it "dangerous".

"The more a society monitors, controls and observes its citizens, the less free it is. In a democratic constitutional state, security is not an end in itself, but serves to secure freedom," she said.

"The suspicion of excessive surveillance of communication is so alarming that it cannot be ignored. For that reason, openness and clarification by the US administration itself should be paramount at this point. All facts must be put on the table."

This week the German Justice Minister has sent two copies of a letter to the British Attorney General Christopher Grayling and the British Home Secretary Theresa May in which she voiced her concerns and the concerns of the German people in a more direct manner.

The minister asked questions about the scale and purpose of GCHQ's "Mastering the Internet" project called Tempora, such as whether data drags require a judge's approval and whether German citizens are affected. µ


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