William Binney, the former technical director of the NSA, today warned a UK parliamentary committee that proposed mass surveillance laws will damage the country’s national security.
The whistleblower — who resigned from the controversial US spying agency during the Bush era after more than 30 years in the job — told a joint parliamentary committee in London today that the bulk surveillance permitted under the draft Investigatory Powers Bill will lead to more terror fatalities.
Home Secretary Theresa May introduced the Investigatory Powers Bill in November 2015 as a means of lawfully tracking and identifying terrorists, paedophiles and other serious criminals.
Binney’s argument is based on the fact that MI5, MI6, and GCHQ will be overwhelmed with too much information, meaning they are unable to spot potential attacks.
“My big objection with NSA, GCHQ and all the associated law enforcement agencies is around bulk acquisition of data of any type,” Binney told the Draft Investigatory Powers Bill Select Committee. “I was in charge of 6000 analysts at the NSA. GCHQ and NSA collaborate very closely. Our biggest problem was we had too much info. The IP Bill should focus on terminating bulk acquisition.”
Binney said security analysts have failed consistently since 9/11 as a result of mass surveillance. He believes security agencies instead need to focus on watching known targets.
Public attitudes to surveillance
Polling organisation YouGov has been surveying the UK for years about attitudes to surveillance, and the answer always comes back the same: The public supports surveillance. In fact, British people want more of it, not less.
In January 2015, YouGov published the results of a survey on the UK’s perception of surveillance. It found that 53% of people supported increased surveillance.
The same survey found that 63% of people trusted the intelligence services to do the right thing (29% of people did not trust them).