David Davis asks a question about the US Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and its impact on British Citizens’ privacy


Mr David Davis: Nobody in this House, and certainly not me, would dispute the value of well-targeted intelligence. Central to this issue are the US FISA—Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act—laws, which distinguish between American citizens, who receive rigorous protection of their privacy, and all other foreigners, including British citizens, who receive, in essence, no protection. When the Americans are concerned about assaults on their citizens, they pursue this with an aggression that would make Lord Palmerston proud, most obviously through the extradition arrangements, for example. Has the Foreign Secretary made any representations to the American authorities about the protection of innocent British citizens’ privacy under their FISA laws?

Mr Hague: We apply our own laws. The United States decides its own laws and applies its own laws in the United States. We do so in the United Kingdom as well. That is the central point that I am making about this. All the Acts that we have passed in this Parliament relating to the gathering of intelligence are applied to data supplied from other countries. While I cannot give my right hon. Friend a specific answer about specific discussions, of course we regularly discuss with the United States the framework for these things to make sure, as best we can, that our values and our legal frameworks are upheld and that the strong emphasis on the privacy of the citizen is always there. As he will have seen in the statements of President Obama, the United States is very, very tough about that as well. When the UK and US both work together, each with a strong legal framework, the combined effect is a very strong and protective one.