Bulk data gathering, one of the powers given to MI5, MI6 and the GCHQ is justified and serves its purpose, according to a new independent review. Prime Minister Theresa May is going to love this.
The independent review, released by the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation, David Anderson QC, did not go into the legality of the bulk data gathering practice, just if it is serving its purpose in terms of national security.
“The bulk powers play an important part in identifying, understanding and averting threats in Great Britain, Northern Ireland and further afield,” the report stated. "Where alternative methods exist, they are often less effective, more dangerous, more resource-intensive, more intrusive or slower.”
The report, 192 pages long, was crafted by a team free of government involvement. It lists various examples of stopped terrorist attacks, all aided by bulk data gathering.
It also tackles the issue of ‘bulk equipment interference’, a practice which allows GCHQ to directly tap into devices, instead of communications. The latter is becoming ever harder, thanks to widespread end-to-end encryption. The practice is already present, but on a smaller scale, with the government hoping to introduce the power to the Investigatory Powers Bill.
"MI6 considered that it was likely to become 'increasingly dependent' on GCHQ’s use of bulk EI to identify threats to the UK, to develop its understanding of those threats and to disrupt them, particularly in the context of counter-terrorism and cyber," the report said.