In July, a month after the PRISM scandal broke, the British Parliaments intelligence oversight committee announced that the countrys spy services had not illegally used the American program to access the content of private communications of UK citizens they knew this because the spy services, namely NSA counterpart GCHQ, told them so. Not the end of the story That said, the Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) conceded that the laws it was talking about were a tad fuzzy and perhaps out-of-date, so the investigation quietly continued. Now, after months of further surveillance revelations that point to GCHQ itself as a major data-hoover , that inquiry is set to widen: on Thursday, the ISC said it would also look into the impact on peoples privacy, and would even hear evidence from the public. Even more astonishingly, some of its evidence-gathering sessions may be held in public, rather than in secret as is the norm. According to Malcolm Rifkind, the ISC chairman and a former UK defence secretary and foreign secretary (pictured above): In recent months concern has been expressed at the suggested extent of the capabilities available to the intelligence agencies and the impact upon peoples privacy as the agencies seek to find the needles in the haystacks that might be crucial to safeguarding national security. There is a balance to be found between our individual right to privacy and our collective right to security. The reaction from privacy activists has been cautious , and understandably so this is the same Malcolm Rifkind who last month downplayed the significance of Edward Snowdens revelations regarding the UKs own Tempora program, a partner program to PRISM, writing : On Tempora, it has been well known that the fibre optic cables that carry a significant proportion of the worlds communications pass close to the British coastline and could provide intelligence opportunities. The reality is that the British public are well aware that its intelligence agencies have neither the time nor the remotest interest in the emails or telephone conversations of well over 99% of the population who are neither potential terrorists nor serious criminals. Modern computer technologies do permit the separation of those that are of interest from the vast majority that are not. Shooting the messenger The announcement of limited public involvement in the ISC inquiry follows an extraordinary two weeks in which the Guardian, the British newspaper that has carried much of the Snowden material, has come under sustained attack from the new head of the UK Security Service (a.k.a. MI5), leading right-wing newspaper the Daily Mail and even fellow left-wing newspaper The Independent, whose former editor penned the immortal line: If MI5 warns that this is not in the public interest who am I to disbelieve them? The attacks from other journalists led editors from around the world to defend the Guardians journalism last week, but this week Prime Minister David Cameron piled on, urging MPs to investigate the publication because what theyre dealing with is dangerous for national security. Conservative MP Julian Smith also asked police to investigate the Guardian over terrorism offences . However, this official attitude is not unanimous. Late last week, business secretary Vince Cable said the Guardian was entirely correct and right even courageous to publish the Snowden material. Former Home Office minister Lord Blencathra also said the public had a right to know whether they were being spied upon, especially as proposed laws that would have allowed greater domestic surveillance had been repeatedly shot down. He said that, when his committee had been examining the last such proposal, the intelligence services had not told MPs that they already had mass surveillance capabilities. Of course, whatever the outcome of this inquiry, one thing it is not concerned with is the surveillance of the rest of the world by British intelligence services. Related research Subscriber Content ?
UK Stocks-Factors to watch on Friday
3.4% of all money spent in the UK on consumer goods goes towards online food shopping. Asda, Tesco and Sainsburys have all made big strides in home delivery of groceries, while Ocado, who are known for working alongside upmarket supermarket chain Waitrose, are still going strong in their sector. Two chains who are set to join the party are Morrisons and Marksy & Spencer. Morrisons are set to work with Ocado to offer home deliveries at the start of 2014, while Marks & Spencer will have their own online butcher and fishmonger services. Fashion was a strong performer too, boosted by the likes of ASOS who have made online retail their own. Non-store retailing is king The ONS found that growth in non-store online retailing grew by a massive 21.1% year-on-year. In total, it accounts for around two thirds of online spending. It encompasses such things as services, and could be essential in determining whether the upward curve of online retail in the UK is set to continue in the long and medium-term. In the meantime, last months figures make for great reading as far as the countrys GDP is concerned. Expectations for the Q3 GDP figures are expected to rise as a result of the good news from the online retail sector, but there are a few things which may undermine it, principally high inflation and minimal wage growth. Should inflation begin to fall and wage growth rise in the coming months, then there may be a chance that consumer confidence starts to rise, especially with the busy Christmas shopping period on the horizon. A higher than expected total rise for retail sales last month compared to August is encouraging nonetheless. Leaving summer behind Augusts retail sales figures were a little mixed.
UK surveillance probe goes public — sort of
For more on the factors affecting European stocks, please click on * Futures for the blue chip index were 0.7 percent higher by 0632 GMT. The FTSE 100 ended 0.1 percent, or 4.57 points, firmer at 6,576.16 points in the previous session to mark its sixth straight session of gains. * HSBC – A unit of British bank HSBC Holdings was hit on Thursday with a record $2.46 billion final judgment in a U.S. securities class action lawsuit against a business formerly known as Household International Inc. * ANGLO AMERICAN – The mining group said third-quarter copper production increased by nearly a third against the same period a year ago, hitting a quarterly record, thanks to improved performance at its Collahuasi mine in Chile. * Britain’s small and medium-sized businesses are more confident about their prospects than they have been for three years but still want banks and the government to do more on funding, a survey by software company Sage said. * Britain’s aviation body said it was considering deregulating the fees which London’s Stansted Airport charges airlines, citing deals with Ryanair and easyJet that could impact the airport’s power over low cost and charter carriers. * London copper futures edged up, supported by data showing China’s economy grew as forecast in the third quarter, although concerns its upward momentum may be short-lived limited price gains. * China’s economy grew 7.8 percent in the third quarter, its fastest pace this year, as firmer foreign and domestic demand lifted factory production and retail sales. * Brent futures rose on Friday, holding above $109 a barrel as data showing China’s economy grew helped offset concerns about demand for oil after a rise in crude stockpiles in the United States. TODAY’S UK PAPERS > Financial Times > Other business headlines Multimedia versions of Reuters Top News are now available for: * 3000 Xtra : visit* BridgeStation: view story .134(Reporting by Atul Prakash; Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta)