Uk Surveillance Probe Goes Public — Sort Of

UK companies raise ad budgets as confidence grows: survey

The UK government has until now put up something of a wall of silence around its intelligence services surveillance activities, but there are signs that this wall might be partially dismantled. 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the Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) conceded that the laws it was talking about were a tad fuzzy and perhaps out-of-date, so the investigation quietly continued.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.

The IPA Bellwether report said a net balance of 12.3 percent of companies registered an increase in budgets in the third quarter, against 7.3 percent in the second quarter, the biggest upward-revision of spending since the survey began at the start of 2000. The numbers add to recent signs of improving business confidence in Britain and improved macro-economic data. They also chime with comments from the industry, with WPP (WPP.L), the world’s largest advertising agency, having in August slightly raised its 2013 forecast due to rising revenue. Britain’s economy grew by 0.8 percent the third quarter, helped by a rise in industrial output, the National Institute of Economic and Social Research said last week. “This latest Bellwether report indicates companies are beginning to move forward, away from recession and that the UK economy is on the rise again,” said IPA Director General Paul Bainsfair. “This optimism will send a continued upbeat message to the advertising industry and wider economy,” he added. The survey found companies were dedicating more of their marketing spend to the Internet, with a net balance of 11.7 percent choosing to boost their coverage online. Main media advertising also saw a second successive period of growth, its strongest rise since Q3 2010, however budgets for public relations, events and direct marketing all saw net reductions. The IPA Bellwether report was drawn up from a survey of 300 companies based in Britain. (Reporting by Li-mei Hoang; editing by David Evans) Tweet this