Privacy Sacrificed in War on Terror, Says Spy Chief

The Evening Standard (London, England), February 25, 2009 | Go to article overview

Privacy Sacrificed in War on Terror, Says Spy Chief


Byline: NICHOLAS CECIL Chief Political Correspondent

A FRESH privacy row erupted today after a former security chief warned innocent people's rights may have to be sacrificed to fight terrorism.

Sir David Omand, the Cabinet Office's former security and intelligence coordinator, said the security services would need access to a wide range of personal data, including phone records, emails and travel information.

"Finding out other people's secrets is going to involve breaking everyday moral rules," he said in a research paper on national security strategy.

Sir David stressed that tracking terrorists by using the growing number of databases would also mean going through the details of some innocent people.

"Modern intelligence access will often involve intrusive methods of surveillance and investigation, accepting that, in some respects this may have to be at the expense of some aspects of privacy rights," he wrote in his document for a public policy research think tank.

"This is a hard choice, and goes against current calls to curb the socalled surveillance society -- but it is greatly preferable to tinkering with the rule of law, or derogating from fundamental human rights. Sir David said that if the public were to agree on the importance of increasing intelligence capability, "being able to demonstrate proper legal authorisation and appropriate oversight of the use of such intrusive intelligence activity may become a major future issue for the intelligence community".

"Intrusive" surveillance techniques could involve mining databases for information on airline bookings and other travel data, passport and biometric ' Finding people's going to breaking data, immigration, identity and border records, criminal records and other government and private sector data, including financial and telephone and other communications records.

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