THE BOSS OF THE UK National Crime Agency (NCA) has complained that he does not have enough surveillance powers to do his job.
Keith Bristow, director general of the NCA, told The Guardian, a publication unlikely to have much sympathy for the message, that the public should get behind his push for a more modernised policing system.
"What we have needs to be modernised ... we are losing capability and coverage of serious criminals," he pined, adding that it is important that "the public consent to losing some freedoms in return for greater safety and security".
The director general said that it is the public that it is at risk, "very serious risks", adding that, while cyber criminality advances, the long arm of the law retreats.
"We are running some very serious risks. This is about public safety - we need the powers to do our job in a digital age. We need to set out our case," he added. "Some of the cybercriminals we are dealing with, it's not as easy as finding a door that we can kick in."
Some parts of Bristow's comments have support among the privacy community, but not the end result.
Jim Killock, director at the Open Rights Group, said that it would be good to talk and discuss the surveillance issue, but added that so far the authorities seem to be happy to make their own rules and decisions.
"Open Rights Group welcomes any public debate about the surveillance of our personal communications by the police and intelligence services, but so far the government seems intent on simply increasing its powers to allow unchecked whole population profiling," he said.
"To tackle terrorism and serious crime, we need targeted surveillance that is authorised by judges not politicians, as well as proper democratic oversight to ensure that powers are not abused."
The NCA's new message represents a bit of a wet blanket compared with its ballsy launch talk. Then Bristow was warning just about anyone that had ever done a bad thing that it was probably on to them.
Loz Kaye, the leader of the UK Pirate Party, told The INQUIRER that Bristow's comments are very telling, and an admission that more surveillance means less freedom.
"This is a significant admission by Keith Bristow. He recognises that the ever encroaching mass surveillance state is an erosion of our freedoms, and that the authorities have failed to bring the public along," he said.
"From the Snowden revelations we know that the state has huge capabilities to monitor all our communications and that they gather vast amounts of data. What's lagging behind is the politicians' ability to sell this attack on our liberty to the British people."
Kaye continued, saying that too much internal inspection puts the UK at risk of falling behind on outside threats.
"Surely recent events show the failure of mass surveillance. ISIL has grown up through the period of Prism, Tempora and the rest of the alphabet soup of spying programmes," he added. "The mistake has been to focus on spying on us all, rather than analysing the real threats." µ
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