Former US National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden has criticized a new surveillance bill that British lawmakers are pushing to pass this week, The Guardian reported.
The law, drafted in response to alleged domestic security threats, would allow for storing and tracking the public’s telephone calls, text messages, and Internet use. UK Prime Minister David Cameron said the government was forced to act, adding that he is not prepared to “address the people after a terrorist incident and explain that I could have done more to prevent it."
In April, the European Court of Justice struck down an EU directive requiring telephone and Internet companies to retain communications data saying it “entails a wide-ranging and particularly serious interference with the fundamental rights to respect for private life and to the protection of personal data.”
In an exclusive interview with The Guardian in Moscow, Snowden expressed concern about the rush to pass the new legislation, more than a year after his initial revelations about the scale of government surveillance in the US, the UK and around the world.
Snowden also marked the lack of public debate, fear mongering and what he said was increased powers of intrusion.
"I mean we don't have bombs falling. We don't have U-boats in the harbor," Snowden said, adding that suddenly it had become a priority, after the government had ignored it for an entire year. "It defies belief."
The bill, that has to be passed in the same manner that a surveillance bill in the US was passed in 2007 without any substantial open public debate, looks like it was written by the National Security Agency, Snowden said.
"I mean the NSA could have written this draft," he said. "They passed it under the same sort of emergency justification. They said we would be at risk. They said companies would no longer cooperate with us. We're losing valuable intelligence that puts the nation at risk," Snowden said.
Snowden fled the US in June 2013, after leaking information about the extensive electronic surveillance programs conducted by the US government around the globe, including eavesdropping on US citizens and foreign leaders. The revelations have sparked domestic controversy and strained relations between the US and its partners worldwide. The Guardian, to whom Snowden sent his files, published a large amount of the materials.