Fresh legislation around the way intelligence agencies collect and analyse digital data is needed in the wake of the notorious PRISM revelations, according to the Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC).
The ISC, which has been running an inquiry into UK intelligence agencies' digital surveillance activities over the past 18 months, issued its findings on Thursday, arguing, while the agencies have not broken the law, reform is needed.
"We are satisfied that the UK's intelligence and security agencies do not seek to circumvent the law," read the report.
"However, that legal framework has developed piecemeal, and is unnecessarily complicated. We have serious concerns about the resulting lack of transparency, which is not in the public interest.
"Our key recommendation therefore is that the current legal framework be replaced by a new Act of Parliament governing the intelligence and security agencies."
The report comes amid widespread concern about GCHQ's mass data collection activities.
In 2013, documents leaked by Edward Snowden revealed that UK intelligence agencies were collecting vast amounts of web user data and had used information collected during the US National Security Agency's PRISM operation.
The ISC ruled that GCHQ's involvement in the NSA's notorious PRISM programme was entirely legal after a separate review in July 2013.
The GCHQ, MI5 and MI6 have since used this ruling in defence of their surveillance programmes, which according to some Snowden reports and privacy advocacy groups indiscriminately collected vast amounts of web user data.
The ISC inquiry concluded this is not the case.
"Our inquiry has shown that the agencies do not have the legal authority, the resources, the technical capability, or the desire to intercept every communication of British citizens, or of the internet as a whole: GCHQ are not reading the emails of everyone in the UK," read the report.
"GCHQ's bulk interception systems operate on a very small percentage of the bearers that make up the internet. We are satisfied that they apply levels of filtering and selection such that only a certain amount of the material on those bearers is collected."
It added: "While these findings are reassuring, they nevertheless highlight the importance of a new, transparent legal framework. There is a legitimate public expectation of openness and transparency in today's society, and the intelligence and security agencies are not exempt from that."
Foreign secretary Philip Hammond said earlier this week that new reforms for the security agencies were on the agenda for after the election, although he also said he felt it time to 'draw a line' under the examinations of the security services.
Open Rights Group executive director, Jim Killock was critical of the ISC's report, claiming it showed they had failed to proactively monitor the GCHQ and its activities adequetely.
“The ISC’s should have apologised to the nation for their failure to inform Parliament about how far GCHQ’s powers have grown," he said.
"This report fails to address any of the key questions apart from the need to reform our out-of-date surveillance laws. This just confirms that the ISC lacks the sufficient independence and expertise to hold the agencies to account."
The ISC's findings follow moves by the US and UK governments to increase collaboration between the two nations' intelligence agencies in cyber space.
Obama and UK prime minister David Cameron announced plans to mount a series of joint cyber "war games" and cooperative "cyber cells" to coordinate the two nations' anti-hacking efforts in January.
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