US threat to British online privacy – Telegraph
Private information stored online by British computer users could be scrutinised by American law enforcement agencies under a wide-ranging new right-to-snoop being pursued by the US government.
Federal authorities in the US are using the courts to try to force American-owned technology companies to disclose emails and other data held in the “Cloud” – the vast network of servers where data is stored for customers.
John Hemming, the MP for Birmingham Yardley and an information technology expert, has now raised fears about the implications for the security of parliamentary data. The electronic mailboxes of MPs and peers, which had previously been held on an in-house parliamentary system, were switched in July to Microsoft servers based in Ireland and the Netherlands.
Mr Hemming told the Telegraph that warrants could be granted at the US Foreign Intelligence Surveillance (FISA) court, which sits in private, and MPs would not even know that their emails were being monitored.
“Why should the American security services be able to access to our MPs emails, when even the British security services cannot?” he asked.
“It is a great mistake for Parliament not to manage its own servers. This is an alarming vulnerability. MPs and their constituents should be aware that their communications are not secure.”
Professor Ian Walden, of the Centre for Commercial Law Studies at Queen Mary University London, said the legal action presented a huge privacy risk for British companies and British individuals.
“There remains a concern that if data is held on a US company’s equipment – wherever in the world it might be – it is accessible to the American legal process,” said Prof Walden.