A UK Government Minister has declined to answer a Parliamentary Question posed by North Ayrshire & Arran MP Katy Clark.
During Question Time in the House of Commons, Ms Clark raised concerns regarding electronic data belonging to UK citizens being shared with intelligence services of foreign countries. Specifically, the local MP referred to the UK permitting the United States National Security Agency to ‘unminimise’ and hold data that gave the organisation access to telephone, internet and email records of UK citizens.
Directing her question to Home Office Security Mnister James Brokenshire, Katy Clark asked what is the Tory-Lib Dem Government’s position on permitting foreign intelligence agencies to ‘unminimise’ UK citizens' communications data. However, in response, Tory MP Mr Brokenshire stated that while “UK intelligence activities are carried out in accordance with a strict legal and policy framework”, it is not government policy to “comment on security matters”.
Speaking later, Katy Clark said, “The whistle-blowing revelations of Edward Snowden, a former contractor with the US National Security Agency, have raised serious questions about the information that both the UK and foreign governments hold on British citizens. People are rightly concerned about unnecessary state intrusion into their private lives, and claims that the UK Government has allowed the US National Security Agency to obtain our telephone, internet and email records will do little to allay these fears.”
The Labour MP said the government’s response to the revelations appeared to be “say nothing and hope the difficult questions will go away”. However, Ms Clark says that will not happen and it is now time for “a proper debate” on the issues she raised.