UK admits MI5 in 'serious' breach of surveillance safeguards

UK admits MI5 in 'serious' breach of surveillance safeguards UK admits MI5 in 'serious' breach of surveillance safeguards

Britain’s interior minister Sajid Javid has admitted that the country’s main domestic intelligence agency MI5 has breached safeguards on protection of data obtained from citizens during interception operations.

The Guardian newspaper said in a Tuesday report that Javid had sent a letter to members of the British parliament last week notifying them of “serious” breaches in MI5 operations regarding how private data of millions of citizens, including private messages, digital browsing histories and location information, has been handled by the intelligence agency.

That comes after the Investigatory Powers Commissioner’s Office (IPCO), the official body responsible for overseeing government surveillance practices, sent a team of inspectors to the MI5 to investigate how the secuirty organization had failed to comply with the safeguards regarding how it should use and preserve the data.

The IPCO has said in a report that breaches committed by the MI5 had been “serious and required immediate mitigation”.

Javid has announced that his ministry, the Home Office, had established an independent review to “consider and report back” on the findings of the IPCO report.

The evolving scandal comes as human rights organization Liberty is taking legal action against the government over what it and other rights campaigners allege are excessively intrusive surveillance powers given to the security apparatus.

The new revelations about the MI5 have intensified concerns that the British government is sharing the private data of citizens with foreign intelligence agencies.

“It is possible, from what is known, that millions of innocent people’s data is being shared widely with foreign governments. If the government has its way, we will never know if this is the case,” said Megan Goulding, a lawyer at Liberty.

“If the UK’s surveillance regime is to have a semblance of legitimacy, the public needs to know what happened, and how badly our privacy and the security of our information were put at risk,” Goulding added.

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