The British parliament is to expand its probe into online spying in the country, taking evidence from members of the public, media reports say.
The UK parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) announced on Thursday that it will broaden its investigation into the extent and scale of internet snooping undertaken by the country’s spy agencies via a controversial US spying program.
Committee chairman Malcolm Rifkind stressed the need for “an informed and responsible debate” over the “balance” between individual privacy and collective security.
An earlier inquiry by the parliamentary committee concluded that Britain’s eavesdropping agency Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) did not use the US National Security Agency’s (NSA) Prism program to get around British laws.
“Some will say better late than never, others fear a tactical whitewash to calm public concern,” said Shami Chakrabarti, director of the rights group Liberty.
Earlier this month, civil liberties campaigners launched legal action against GCHQ over the alleged breach of privacy of millions of people across the UK and Europe via online surveillance.
The legal challenge came after classified documents leaked by US whistleblower Edward Snowden in June revealed that the GCHQ was secretly accessing the network of cables, which carry the world’s phone calls and internet traffic and has been sharing the data with its American counterpart the NSA.