Mark Collins – UK Security Services’ Successful Bulk Data Collection; Need More Powers (Canada?)

The British government is not shying away from doing what it considers necessary to fight terrorism (the SIGINT agency GCHQ mentioned later in the quote):

Revealed: How MI5 and MI6 used powers to stop terror attacks on British soil and track down jihadists

Theresa May has said that the mass collection of private data by the security services is “vital” for public safety after an official review found it is has been repeatedly used to stop terrorist attacks in Britain.

David Anderson, the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation [website here], revealed that MI6 used “bulk data” to identify terror suspects who posed a threat to the UK in the wake of the attacks in Paris and Brussels.  

He highlighted that he “sheer vivid range” of case studies provided to him by the security services, including identifying Isil extremists in the UK, stopping suspected terrorists from entering Britain and identifying foreign spies…

He also said that the security services need new powers to hack into people’s phones and computers to identify those who pose a threat to Britain because of increasing levels of encryption used by US technology giants.

The security services will be able to collect “bulk” data under the Investigatory Powers Bill, which is currently going through Parliament.

It will enable them view details of millions of communications, including when they are sent and who people communicate with, although they will be unable to read the content of their messages…

In his report Mr Anderson said that bulk data collection powers are of “vital utility” to the security services. He said that the powers had been used earlier this year by MI6, MI5 and GCHQ “to identify individuals who posed a threat to the UK in the wake of the Paris and Brussels attacks.

“The review team was given information which demonstrated that there was no viable alternative method by which these individuals could have been identified,” he said.

In 2014 MI6 cross-checked a leak of 20,000 Isil registration papers with information from bulk data collection to identify Isil supporters in the UK.

“It was only when this information was combined with information obtained from BPDs that MI6 was able positively to identify a number of individuals on the list who posed a threat to national security,” Mr Anderson said.

The review also found that the powers had been used to identify spies from foreign governments. It says: “In 2013, BPDs were used to identify employees of an intelligence service potentially hostile to the UK.

“The Review team was given information which demonstrated that these identifications could not have made without the use of BPDs. The information was shared with intelligence partners [presumably including Canada as one of the Five Eyes].”

One wonders how much the current Canadian government will eventually weaken, er, modify (as it pledged to do during the election last year) the previous one’s Bill C-51 anti-terrorism legislation. Especially with this recent case in mind:

The Life and Mind of Dead Canadian ISIS Jihadi Aaron Driver

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

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5 thoughts on “Mark Collins – UK Security Services’ Successful Bulk Data Collection; Need More Powers (Canada?)”

  1. Very telling how UK intelligence doesnt mention root causes or deradicalization. I think C-51 will eventually remain very little changed as Trudeau govt intersects with reality and demands of allies.

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