Kirkhope speaks on mass surveillance

Our rights and our freedoms must always be the compass which guides society. These rights must always be defended with equal force to that which we use to defend our borders and our safety.

Robust data protection and digital privacy laws must be constantly updated for the modern world.

Accountability, and effective and meaningful oversight of the agencies and the institutions charged with keeping us safe, must form part of the fabric of democratic norms.

Of course independent and thorough investigation must take place where any potential wrongdoing is revealed. This is essential if citizens are to have confidence in the people entrusted with protecting us.

However, I cannot support this resolution.

I will never regard Edward Snowden or his actions as heroic.

I cannot bestow the label of hero upon a person who has endangered the lives of so many citizens across the world, and those individuals serving overseas, who risk their lives every day to protect ours.

In my opinion, the language and the approach of this resolution do little to offer a sensible approach, but instead just seek to escalate the rhetoric and sensationalism that surrounds the debate.

I fail to see how producing a report from an investigation conducted in a political arena, with no access to official documents, with no powers to call relevant individuals to give evidence, and with no competence under EU law can produce recommendations with even the smallest perceived amount of objectivity in them.

I cannot in conscience ever support a resolution of this Parliament which calls for the suspension of important anti-terror agreements with the United States, given the security situation in Europe at present.

A resolution of this kind, in my view, is something that can never be credible, relevant or responsible in the legitimate quest to provide real oversight and protection of individual rights for the people of Europe as a whole.

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